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Here's How Wasting Food Can Cost You A Fortune - Outside View by PersonalFN

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Here's How Wasting Food Can Cost You A Fortune
Jul 22, 2016

"Don't waste food; a child dies every 5 seconds as a result of hunger" read a board in a restaurant in Mumbai. For a Sunday morning, the restaurant was crowded with foodies who turned a blind eye to the message. To satisfy their taste buds, they were busy trying out a variety of dishes. More and more dishes were ordered cramping the tables, but as they tried to satisfy their insatiable taste buds, eating more than the stomach could possibly digest; they left more food on the plate, without thinking twice. "We can afford it" seemed to be their attitude of the individuals dining there.

"Kya kare sir, log samjhte hi nahi hain" (What shall we do, people just don't understand) was the concerned reply of the steward when asked about the wastage. And this situation holds true across eateries in India.

According to a statistic, Indians waste as much food as the whole of United Kingdom consumes.

Most Indians seem to be oblivious of their surroundings and care less on issues that don't impact them directly. According to the World Economic Forum's estimates, India's population is estimated to reach 1.45 Billion by 2028, which will be equivalent to the combined population of China and United States. This estimate is alarming especially when India is struggling to feed its current population.

India ranks poorly in the 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI). It is behind Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh as one of the hungriest countries in the world. What is more distressing is 1/3rd of world's malnourished children reside in our country.

Although, there are huge wastages that need to be fixed at the production level (nearly 40% of the total value of annual food production in India is wasted at the production level itself and never reaches the consumers), we need to ask ourselves how we can curb down this malady.

For starters, here are some ideas to work with:

  • To do list: Yes, having a list helps you avoid wastages. It'll help you buy in quantities that you can realistically use and will stop you getting swayed with discount offer or a free one-on-one purchase. It helps you concentrate on items which you need to buy, thus saving not only your money but also the food that could have been wasted. Even planning out a meal helps you avoid wastage.
  • Avoid shopping when you are hungry: Hungry shoppers tend to buy more than what they can consume, leading to wastages. It is better to shop with your stomachs full.
  • Use cash: Seeing your cash leave your pocket, you tend to be wiser with your decisions. Cash payments pinch more vis-a-vis plastic payments.
  • Store: Use your refrigerator smartly by saving fruits and vegetables separately. The temperature should be adjusted with change in the season to keep the eatables fresh and increasing their lifespan. Even if food gets spoilt, compost it if possible.
  • Donate your food: Use the services of a Food Bank near your area to donate food (Yes, India has Food Banks!). This would help feed the hungry.

The habit of buying what you can consume can help you become a wiser investor too. You save on money that could have been wasted. For example, if you are able to save at least Rs 1,000 per month for 30 years (i.e. Rs 3,60,000 across 30 years), and invest it in an equity mutual fund you would be able to accumulate Rs 30, 80, 973 in 30 years at an assumed CAGR of 12% p.a.! This money could be allocated towards an important life goals -your retirement or daughter's education etc.

Moreover, according to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) the provisional combined consumer food price index (CFPI) in June 2016 is 7.79%. And mind you, the data is on an uptrend with prices of some kitchen staples going off the roof for the common man, who's looking forward to good days (or acche din). Remember there are millions of humans out there dying hungry - who don't even get a morsel.

So the next time you throw leftover of your plate into the trash can, take a minute to ponder your action. It may seem routine, but the impact is huge on the sustenance human life. The problem is bigger than we can possibly imagine.

So, stop wasting food, save and donate more.

PersonalFN is a Mumbai based personal finance firm offering Financial Planning and Mutual Fund Research services.


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