Saturday, 4 August 2018

HK Needs Multi-Pronged Strategy on Food Waste

Seems a lot of people throw out soup ingredients instead of eat them
I was shocked to read a news story today that said the ingredients used to make Cantonese soup make up 40 percent of Hong Kong's food waste.

According to local NGO Food Grace, everyday Hongkongers throw out 450 tonnes of the soup ingredients, the weight equivalent to 1,000 cows, or 40 percent of the city's total household waste.

Winter melon soup is suggested as a soup with less waste
This is strange to me, as I am someone who grew up eating the soup ingredients, not just drinking the savoury and nourishing broth, though there are others who only prefer the soup and believe the ingredients, having been simmering for hours are tasteless.

Casey Ng, Food Grace project manager, explains while food waste will decompose easily compared to single-use plastic, it also produces greenhouse gases like methane and waste water that harm the environment. Not only that, they also attract pests that spread disease.

Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department says food makes up 35 percent of solid waste going into landfills, 65 percent of which comes from homes.

Wendell Chan, programme officer for the Hong Kong branch of Friends of the Earth suggests ways for households to cut down on food waste.

450 tonnes of soup ingredients are thrown out every day
"You don't always have to cook soups that create so many leftovers. There are soups, such as winter melon soup, where you can eat most of the ingredients, so you don't get much inedible food waste.

"Secondly, the meat that is used, for example, in pork bone soups, can be chopped up and used for other dishes afterwards."

Chef Chung Chi-keung says the bones can be boiled again to make a broth for vegetables, and leftover meat used in other dishes. He observes many restaurants are using these tips to cut down on their food waste.

The government periodically has PSAs or public service announcements telling people to be more thoughtful when ordering food so that there isn't much food waste, but what about a concerted effort to deal with the actual food waste?

Food rescued from a dump -- we need to save more food
More needs to be done in terms of rescuing food that can be given to the needy, and then composting the rest of the food waste. If more food was composted, the city would need to buy less fertilizer for its trees and plants around the city, and also why not encourage small-scale agriculture in the New Territories? They could use the fertilizer too and grow organic vegetables.

There needs to be a circular system that works. Right now Hong Kong has band-aid solutions that go no where. Some of the city's western restaurants are very keen on using local ingredients, but there aren't enough suppliers or the quality isn't consistent enough. Why can't the government support these growers, as having local ingredients used in the city's top dining establishments would be another way to promote Hong Kong?

Or are we thinking too far ahead?

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