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Food: for stomachs or trash bags?

Courtesy of Sikander Z. Hashmi


From the moment we leave Eid prayers and for days and perhaps even weeks ahead, many of us will find ourselves feasting as if we haven’t eaten for a month.

That’s fine, since Eid is a time of celebration and food – lots of it – is usually how many people tend to celebrate.

Unfortunately, hand-in-hand with the all-time high in food consumption comes an all-time high in food wastage. Seldom is there a party where plates of leftover food aren’t thrown away.

“Food is a great blessing of Allah (SW). The Prophet (SAW) has said (to the nearest meaning) that we do not know which morsel contains Barakah (blessings). Therefore, we should try and gain this barakah by finishing off our food and not wasting it,” explained Ml. Zainul Abedeen of Leicester, UK.

“So many people in the world, including Muslims, haven’t got food to survive. We should really be helping them.”

According to published statistics, 24 000 people die of hunger or hunger-related causes each day, close to 18 000 of which are children. That adds up to a person every 3.6 seconds; more than 16 people each minute; 1,000 each hour; translating into 8,760,000 every single year.

In the luxury of the times, it may be tough to give up on everything we’re used to, said Ml. Zain. But we can still do our part.

“It’s hard to give up our luxurious parties, but at least we can make an attempt on not wasting food,” said the 22-year-old scholar.

As well, wasting has been condemned by Allah. In the Quran, Allah says:

Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the devils, and the Devil is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (17:27)

Allah also warns humans against wasting food and drink.

O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer, and eat and drink, but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” (7:31)

One way to lessen food wastage is to take only as much food as one is sure that one can finish, and then head for seconds if more is needed.

If there are leftovers after a party, they can be distributed to the guests or sent to a food bank or homeless shelter.

As well, when planning meals, proper estimates should be made, taking into consideration the fact that not everyone eats the same amount, and that children eat considerably less than adults. One method of factoring in children is to count them as half adults.

Another point to keep in mind is that the higher the number of dishes, the less each person will take of each dish.

Lastly, if there are many dishes, one shouldn’t try to make too much of each with the worry that they may run out. There’s nothing wrong if a dish finishes before others.

The meal should be planned collectively, taking into consideration all the dishes and the collective amount being cooked, as opposed to each dish being cooked as stand-alone meals (as if it were a dinner with only one dish).

All these steps can help in lessening food wastage.

* Send in your tips on lessening food wastage to comments@eat-halal.com.

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