Food wastage.

PAKISTAN is an agricultural country with the capacity to produce enough food for its entire population and also earn valuable foreign exchange through exports. And yet, Pakistan has not been able to feed all its people. Every year, we experience food shortages, and our food-related import bill is continuously soaring.

The problem of food shortage can be solved substantially if we follow the major directions of the Holy Quran in letter and spirit. The Quran is emphatic about the use of food. It enjoins us to be careful in using resources of the earth. Food is one of the most important requirements for human survival; it fulfils our basic needs and therefore it must be consumed with a sense of gratitude to Allah (2:172). We need to be careful that not a single grain of food goes to waste, as Allah prohibits wastage of food. He says '... eat and drink but waste not by extravagance. Certainly, He likes not the extravagant' (7:31).

Food waste is a global problem. It refers to food that is fit for human consumption but is discarded consciously or unconsciously. One-third of the food produced worldwide is thrown away uneaten or half-eaten, causing an increased burden on the environment. It is estimated that reducing food waste globally could help reduce hunger and poverty. It can also decrease household expenditure on food; thus freeing up resources for health, education and well-being.

The situation of Pakistan with regard to food waste is also very grim. Huge quantities of food are wasted in every household during handling, cooking, consumption etc. On the other hand, millions of people live below the poverty line and are food-insecure. Indeed, serving food to guests is part of our culture and is often used as a social instrument to initiate and strengthen interpersonal relationships. However, there are some people who eat little but waste much. Events where food wastage is very common include wedding receptions. Most reception dinners are lavish, held late night and by that time, the hungry guests rush towards the food tables, filling their plates to the brim, but in the end, nearly half of the food on their plates goes to waste.

The Quran enjoins us to be careful in using earth's resources.

Similarly, hotels, restaurants, roadside eateries and gatherings held in different corners of the country become conduits of food waste. If one walks along the streets of any major city of Pakistan, one will surely find none without a fast-food restaurant...

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