Food wastage in India is at an all time high and here is why you should be worried

food wastage in India

How many times have you been at some fancy new eatery in town and ended up ordering almost half of the menu because you can’t decide what you like better? Or how many snaps had it taken you to get that perfect #foodporn pic boasting of an array of dishes before realising that you don’t really have room for any of that stuff?

Many often and most apathetically, we take food as a means of comfort, a delight to savour and a feast to behold even for the eyes. Indeed, food is all of those and with such eye appeasing, taste bud satiating dishes stemming from the numerous food cultures in the world, it’s undeniable that food is very much a celebration of life. However, even when it is best at being the indulgence that it is supposed to be, we should not forget that primarily food is the sustenance of life and only secondarily the celebration of it.

No wonder with this attitude of viewing food more as deliciousness and less as essential, we don’t give a second thought before tossing off that ‘deformed’ apple in the bin or washing a whole pack of milk down the drain because ‘we do booze, not milk and snooze’. Even less surprising therefore that food wastage doesn’t sound like a sin to us- it is our ‘right’, for we can do whatever we want with the food that we purchase with our own damned money!

Sounds like we are so sorted. We the humans, buying our stuff with our money and doing whatever we deem fit. But the truth is as haughty members of the human race, we are far from sorted. While we may waste food- and for that matter all other resources- at will, we don’t realise the gravity of what we are landing ourselves in.

Food wastage is a problem that is far more serious than what we tend to make out of it. And specifically in a country like India, where lavish is the order of the day in pretentious shows of pomp and wealth, the reality is even bleaker. Food wastage in India continues unabated, we all are party to wasting away food without even battling an eyelid, as if what we do with ‘our’ food depends on our *dramatic eye roll* mood.

Even now, with the festive season just setting in this country, the rampance of wastage is set to get intensified. This, despite the fact, that in just over a week we would be observing the World Food Day on October 16th. And while no country or being in the world can afford the luxury of wasting any of the resources at least ethically, India sure is more at a disadvantage. With a dismal 103rd position out of 119 surveyed countries, India suffers from a level of hunger that is serious. And yet here we are, wasting food at every instant without even an iota of remorse.

But the stark reality that we just encountered is only the tip of the iceberg. Further statistics spell an even greater doom, what with food wastage being the wastage of not just one resource. It is an exertion on the world much greater than what it seems like. Because when we are wasting food, we waste not only the end product but also the entire elements and components that had aided in the production of those tonnes of food mass. Be it water or oil, land and forest resources, food wastage in India and in many other parts of the world is an alarmingly humongous proposition to deal with for us all.

Here’s why food wastage in India, as in any part of the world, should be a matter of serious concern-


25% of fresh water used to produce the food we waste also gets wasted in the process. For a world already suffering with an acute water crisis, this indeed should be a cause for grave concern.


Food production that take place on lands earlier covered by forests means that approximately 45% of India’s land resource gets lost or depleted in the process. This not only hampers the efficiency of future food production but also takes a toll on the environment with its unsustained use.


In also a severe blow to the economy, precious edible oil that India necessarily has to import from foreign countries gets wasted along with the food that it helped produce.


A lot of resources goes into the production of food that is enough to feed twice the world population. However, food wastage is so widely practised that a staggering 194.4 million people reman undernourished in India due to non availability of sufficient food. In fact, India is home to the largest undernourished population in the world.


Every night an estimated 20 crore Indians go to sleep hungry even as another 65 million got added to the list in the course of just a decade, with rampant food wastage still very much the norm.


What’s more, food wastage in India or anywhere else in the world also releases a lot of carbon dioxide, 3.3 billion tons to be precise. In a world that already battles with increasing levels of air pollution, this indeed is nothing short of a disaster.


India wastes nearly 40% of the food (equivalent to more than fifty thousand crores worth of food per year) it produces which means that the food wastage in India is more than even the food consumption of the entire UK!


Food wastage even throughout the world is so extensive that saving just one fourth of the entire waste stuff would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world of which the highest number (about 194.6 million) are in India.


The wasted food that ends up in landfills and other such dumping grounds releases huge amounts of the toxic methane gas that is a really potent threat to greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming.

What’s perhaps more unsettling is that it isn’t just a lack of conscience on the part of the common people that contributes to this ever burgeoning waste mass of food. The government is equally at fault, even when it waxes eloquent about its resolution of putting to rest the food crisis- shortage or wastage- the apathy still rules large. With tonnes of food grains also perishing consistently at the government godowns every year, it’s isn’t very difficult to understand why the food wastage in India is such a vicious problem.

Food wastage in the production stage is also as widespread a crisis as food wastage in general. In its many manifestations in promoting world hunger and global warming, and being a failure for humanity at so many levels, food wastage needs to be consciously looked into and efficiently minimised. The onus lies on each one of us to be thorough enough in our understanding of the perils that hunger can lead to, and consequently do our best to avoid the prevailing food wastage.