With so much focus on food, Ramadan is the perfect time to highlight the issue of food waste. Fasting and then in turn feasting, with friends and family means that large amounts of food are prepared often in lavish buffets, which unfortunately leads to lots of wasted food. Globally, a third of all food produced is wasted. In Dubai, 38% of food is wasted annually, which increases significantly during Ramadan and Eid. Additionally, 30%-40% of all fruit and vegetables don’t even make it to the supermarket because of their ‘funny’ shape! All this food waste costs the UAE a staggering AED13 billion annually.
But do not be disheartened. As consumers, but more importantly, as global citizens, we have the power to change this. Through simple, achievable steps we can drastically reduce these figures. My mother was right when she said; ‘your eyes are bigger than your belly’, when I overloaded my dinner plate and then couldn’t finish. It’s simple but it’s true, serve smaller portions – you can always go back for more if you’re still hungry. Always grocery shop with a list and plan your meals for the week. That way you only buy what you need. Learn to love your funny and weird looking fruit and veggies. Leftovers are not rubbish. Be creative with leftover food – they’re perfect for soups, pickles, jams & chutneys, pies, curries or biryani. Or simply have them for lunch next day or freeze them for later. There are so many websites with great recipes and suggestions out there. Put your food scraps to use too, with composting or even feeding local farm animals. Finally, in the true spirit of Ramadan, share your food, not just with friends and family but with the wider community.
The Holy Month is also a great opportunity through sharing food to demonstrate kindness and charity to those less fortunate. The Ramadan Sharing Fridge initiative is a great example of how the community can come together to do this. Since it started 4 years ago it has grown from one fridge to 202 fridges located all across the city. This year there are 41 schools involved too, which is a great way to teach sharing and compassion to our children. The UAE Food Bank is a great initiative too. It is committed to distributing food to those in need while eliminating food waste by collaborating with local authorities and charities to distribute excess fresh food from hotels, restaurants and supermarkets.
We have been actively participating in our neighbourhood Ramadan fridge, and also at our children’s schools’ fridges. It’s feels good to share the love and share the food! Get involved and share the Ramadan spirit.