OPINIONS All-out effort required to curb food waste


All-out effort required to curb food waste

By Yang Cheng | chinadaily.com.cn

20:36, August 13, 2020

Young volunteers put up posters promoting food saving in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Aug 12, 2020. [Photo by HUA XUEGEN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Some recent livestream hosts have triggered criticism from Chinese netizens, over an excessive waste of food and concern over vanishing morals.

A disgusting video showing a renowned anchor, who claimed he could eat 100 pieces of fried chicken or 10 pieces of pizza at once, broadcast the feat online…along with the grisly results when all that food came right back out the same way, moments later.

Afterward, he admitted this video was not the one he hoped to show off, but was accidentally revealed "due to his counterparts' careless clicks".

The accidental release shows he didn't deserve to be called a "big-stomach" host. But more importantly, it demonstrates that group's disrespect to farmers' hard work, ignorance of the risks brought by food shortages and ever-lowering moral standards.

In this context, the catering sector across the country is calling for a stop to the wasting of food, and encouraging food conservation among the public.

The move echoes Chinese President Xi Jinping's call for greater awareness of risks posed to China's food security, and efforts to curb food waste.

In Tianjin, a local notice indicated restaurants were advised to contact clients who have booked orders for wedding banquets in upcoming days to review their orders and ensure food would not be wasted.

Smaller dishes, half-portions and to-go boxes for customers are also being suggested across the country.

Some restaurants have said if customers finish their entire meals, they could receive subsidies for parking and coupons for return trips.

Time-honored traditions

Looking back in history, respect for farmers and a commitment to thrift are centuries-old moral virtues in China.

In the book Zuo Zhuan, or The Legend of Spring and Autumn Century by Zuo Qiuming, which recorded history from 722-454 BC, it stated "jian, liang zhi gong ye; she, e zhi da ye," translated literally to mean "thrift is the greatest among all moral virtues; luxury is the biggest among all evils."

A Tang Dynasty (618-907) poem most kindergarten children can recite reads, shui zhi pan zhong can, li li jie xin ku, or "Every grain in the bowl, is the fruit of much pain and toil."

The country's recent campaign to save food is expected to help people raise awareness and regain time-honored moral standards, and curb a growing trend in excessive waste of food.

According to CCTV, a recent survey made by the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences indicated people's average food waste hit 93 grams per meal, as per results from 366 restaurants around Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Lhasa.

As a result, China's food waste could hit 17-18 million tons in the catering sector, the equivalent to food for a population of 30-50 million.

Large restaurants, visitors as well as commercial dinners are the top sources of waste, the survey showed.

As such, it's critically urgent to help people regain moral standards and more importantly, develop more campaigns to help people raise their awareness of food insecurity globally.

According to the United Nations World Food Progamme, due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year the world's population facing food insecurity is likely to rise from 135 million to 265 million.

China is facing its own issues in this area. Despite recent annual bumper harvests of grains, enhanced efforts in food saving are still a top priority to secure the future food supply.

We should remember China is a country frequently affected by natural disasters, and has achieved great success by using its farmland, which only accounts for 7 percent of the world's total arable land, to feed up to 22 percent of the world's population. This is no easy feat.

The current status quo should be treasured, and we should resolutely fight against food sprees.

In addition, the country is advised to enhance regulations and legislature on food saving.

For example, in Jiangsu province, a grain regulation released in January reiterated that local governments above the town level should step up initiatives to save grains, and Chongqing announced food waste was forbidden and has released a number of punishment regulations.

More education campaigns to develop food-saving habits are also urged, to help society foster a climate in food saving, for generations young and old.

The author is chief correspondent at China Daily's Tianjin Bureau.

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