x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Throwing away food is a wasted opportunity

New Year's Day is still weeks away but already I have made my top resolution, and it's about food: buying only what I need and can consume.

Buying only what you can consume is a good way to eliminate waste. Lauren Lancaster / The National
Buying only what you can consume is a good way to eliminate waste. Lauren Lancaster / The National

New Year's Day is still weeks away but already I have made my top resolution, and it's about food: buying only what I need and can consume.

I have been thinking about it since a recent weekend, when I sat down in the food court at Abu Dhabi's Al Wahda Mall beside a table for 12 so laden with plates full of leftovers I felt the family that had been sitting there must have been called away on an emergency. As it was all slowly cleared away and tossed into the nearby bin, I felt queasy.

However, the truth is that, in many ways, I am no better. I often load up with vegetables during a weekly shop at the supermarket, only to get busy during the week and regretfully toss out withered spinach and wrinkled peppers later on.

About 35 per cent to 45 per cent of waste in the UAE is food, according to Gayapri Raghwa at Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi. It has also been estimated that the contents of one in every three bags brought home from the supermarket in the US and UK goes into the bin.

It's not just the waste itself that we should worry about: the energy and water that goes into producing the food are precious, too, particularly here in the UAE, where the Government has confirmed that water resources are in serious danger of depletion.

I also want to get better at using the whole product of whatever I do buy: making stock from chicken carcasses instead of tossing them away, and finding uses for the stems and stalks on vegetables and herbs. And although some people feel embarrassed asking for a "doggie bag" in restaurants, knowing that you're trying to eliminate waste is a powerful motivator to just get over it.