Yesterday I read one of the most hilarious pieces of news which said that to reduce food wastage the government could look into the Guest Control Order of the 1960s, which limits number of guests at marriages and other events.
It seems that the government has woken up to the fact that there is a food shortage and they have arrived at a brilliant realization that the food wastage at weddings and social gatherings is ”criminal” and must be curbed to ensure food security.
Is there really a relationship between food shortage and the number of guests
Today, however, I would like to limit my thoughts to the possibility of a curb on the number of guests at a party and like to explore if a party with large number of guests results in food shortage. My thinking is that it does not. And my case is given below:
- When I go for a dinner party, I eat at the party. On coming back, I do not have dinner again at home. I somehow get this feeling that is the case with all others as well. Therefore, if hypothetically speaking, I invited the entire population of Delhi (about 17 million strong) for the reception of my son’s wedding (a dinner party can’t get bigger than this), that night dinner will not be cooked at any other dwelling except mine. It therefore means that irrespective of the number of guests at a party, the same numbers of “man-dinners” are consumed. So there is no wastage. Corollary to the argument being that attending parties does not contribute to food shortage.
- At home when I have dinner and say consume only one dish plus rice, the quantity is kind of fixed. Say I would eat about 100 grams of dal and four chappatis. Now when I go to a party, if there are 64 dishes served, I do not eat 100 grams multiplied by 64 dishes plus chappatis. I would still eat about 100 grams of all dishes put together plus chappatis. That is why you hear the guest saying, “the food is free but the stomach is mine.” What it means is that generally people eat as per their “capacity”. The quantity consumed does not depend on the number of dishes and hence a lavish spread does not result in wastage of food and hence food shortage.
Food and Consumer Affairs Minister K V Thomas said although the government has not conducted any study to determine the level of wastage of food at such functions like marriage events, there are reports that wastage is to the extent of 15-20 per cent. “There is huge wastage of food at weddings and other social functions. It is a criminal wastage. We are finding out mechanism to bring down such wastage of food,” Thomas told PTI. The Consumer Affairs Ministry has initiated a consultation with noted farm scientist M S Swaminathan and several civil societies to suggest ways to reduce the wastage of food items at big events, he said.
I think they should do well to conduct a comprehensive study to determine the causes of food shortage and not just limit it to guest control versus food shortage.
Change people’s habits to reduce food shortage
Now my thought on this is that the wastage is not due to the parties but due to the habits of people. It is not as if a person leaves food on his plate only during a party – if he leaves food on the plate, then it can be safely assumed that he generally leaves food on his plate at home as well. It is the person who has to be blamed for the wastage and not the occasion. Has the minister tried to do a study about the food wasted at people’s homes? He should. And just as the leftover food at home is recycled, so is the leftover food at such parties.
It is also possible that the host prepared more food than what could have been consumed – and that is a management problem. Having said that, the minister should realize that even in this case, the food is not wasted, but is given away to guests, workers and poor families in the neighborhood. Just as the minister is worried about the food shortage, the host is worried about his own expenses and he will not let his hard-earned money go waste.
The minister noted that the need of the hour is to stop such kind of wastage because there are still some percentages of population who get only one time meal. I fully agree with him on that. But a curb on the number of people who attend a party is not a solution to this.
I am curious to know what you think about the issue at hand – Will guest control at a party help reduce food shortage?