Published: Tuesday, December 10, 2013

READER'S CHIT

Waste not, want not

One of the earliest teachings of life was, I should never waste food. It was not only because God does not like people who waste, but also because there are millions out there who do not have food to eat — I should therefore count my blessings. I have not forgotten my childhood lesson but in my present situation, I am compelled to waste food.
In Bangladesh, I never saw food go to waste because there were always people around to eat food, fresh and leftover alike. We could give excess food to domestic helps, building security guards downstairs, and homeless and hungry people on the street. Guests would come and empty our refrigerator. I mean there was no way we could waste food — what a blessing!
Here in the U.S., however, I have to waste food. In a family of three, where one member is only a year old, food goes to waste almost every other week. When I go grocery shopping, I try to buy foods in small quantities. But in a country, where food portion sizes are big, I always have a difficult time finding food and cooking ingredients in smaller bottles, jars and packages.
I have no one to give the leftover food to. Although 46.5 million people in this country live at or below the poverty line, there is no way I can help them with the excess food I have at home. I can donate food to food banks but they only accept non-persishable, unopened canned or boxed food items.
I have thrown away expired breads, cookies, mayonnaise, ketchup, fruit juice, fresh fruits and vegetables so many times that I feel terribly guilty about it. Every time I throw away a food item, I think of the hungry children and adults living in and outside of this country. I ask for forgiveness from the Almighty but that does not really make me feel good.
Food goes to waste here in the U.S. every day — every year, Americans throw away $165 billion worth of food! Coming from a country where malnutrition has always been a problem, this figure seems outrageous.
When I first came to the U.S. in 2005, I was taken aback by the amount of food I saw students waste at a college cafeteria. After living in this country for more than five years now, I have not yet gotten used to the idea of dumping food and yet that is what I do almost every other week. In the beginning, I would try to eat everything that we would buy to minimize waste but I soon realized that overeating was neither healthy nor pleasing.
I am now actively trying to purchase food that I really need and purchase only in smaller quantities to reduce this pointless waste.