Delhiites love their food but waste as much...

Decreasing sensitivity

Shruti Adhikari, goes to Big Chill at Select Citywalk every weekend and she always like to see her table full and colourful. “I like their large portions; they give enough for two in one plate. I cannot order anything less than a three course meal and obviously two people can never finish even half of it.”

Two people not being able to finish a meal for three is not a ridiculous situation but Adhikari’s love for the restaurant made her feel guilty leaving the food, less than half consumed, at the end of the meal. 

“As the food came in, the table would look colourful with different dishes adorning it and after nibbling from this and that it still remained as colourful. I would pack the leftovers for home and sometimes I would give it to a beggar on the way,” she tells Metrolife.

According to the recent Economic Survey of Delhi 2014-15, tabled in the Assembly on Wednesday, Delhi is now the ‘richest’ state in the country. The survey also states that food items were most hit by price rise in the last financial year.

Osama Jalali, a food consultant and critic, says, “Do we still hear parents telling their children not to waste food and finish the food that’s on the plate? Few years back the trend was that parents would get angry and lecture us for not ‘respecting’ food, quoting how many people go hungry in the country, but plausibly the rise in economic standards has decreased our sensitivity towards food.”

Seemingly the swanky malls in the city and their gleaming, plush international food restaurants that stand tall, have obscured the vision of city people towards their declining culture.

“In India, food has been immensely intertwined with every aspect of culture of all communities, irrespective of different religion. Almost all holy books have stated in verses after verses how food is also a gift of God,” says Jalali.

Jalali, has reviewed numerous city restaurants and, as a food lover he expresses his displeasure over the fact that people have forgotten the essence of food in their lives. He says, “In Islam we say that we should not leave anything on the plate. As children, we were taught to only take small portions in one go, so that half-eaten food does not have to go into the dustbin. But this kind of learning is no longer given to the children. How can one expect these children to grow to be sensitive towards the poor.”

“We do not need statistics and data to prove how many poor are there in this city. Poverty is visible in all the public spaces around you. You just need to walk five minutes from your house to find a poor man lurking around,” says Satyendra Ranjan, visiting professor of Issues and Concerns, Development Communications in AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia.

Jalali says food is weighed against money nowadays. He confesses witnessing families that go out to eat, have each person order one or two things and “even a five year old is allowed to order his own main course dish. How is a five year old child expected to
finish an entire main course?” he exclaims.

“I have never seen people who go to dhabas on the highway wasting food like they do in fancy restaurants,” adds Jalali.

Chef Rahul Gladwyn Massey of Sbarro says, “A chef will always feel bad to see leftover food on the plate, after all it’s his effort that went into making the dish. Not to forget that, that food can only go into the dustbin after that, it cannot be consumed by anyone.”

Chef Rahul says that there is always some leftover food at Sbarro outlets at the end of the day.“We used to tie up with NGOs to distribute food to the poor, but our condition was that the food should be delivered to them within two hours otherwise it would start going bad. But sometimes, the food was delivered the next morning and hence we discontinued this practice,” he tells Metrolife.

Chef Ravitej Nath, Oberoi, Gurgaon says, “The Oberoi group has tied up with NGOs across the city to deliver freshly-cooked food to the backward pockets in the city.”

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