Food shortage? Xi calls for ending food waste and promoting frugality

The Chinese Communist Party’s supreme leader Xi Jinping has underlined the need for greater awareness of the risks posed to the country’s food security and called for resolute efforts to promote frugality and combat the wasting of food.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remark in an instruction released on Tuesday.

While noting that food waste is a distressing phenomenon, Xi urged the nation to always be aware of the risks to food security despite consecutive years of bumper grain harvests. He said the impact of the pandemic has sounded the alarm for the country regarding food security.

He stressed the need to take effective measures and establish long-term mechanisms to curb the wasting of food by strengthening legislation and supervision. In the meantime, he required efforts to promote thrift among the public to create an atmosphere that is conducive to saving food.

Xi has long attached great importance to food security and on many occasions has emphasized the need to stop the wasting of food.

He has described food security as “an important foundation of national security”. During an inspection tour of Heilongjiang province in September 2018, he stressed that “the rice bowl of the Chinese people, in any situation, must be firmly held in our own hands”.

In the face of the CCP-virus outbreak, Xi said in February that “the more risks and challenges we face, the more we need to stabilize agriculture and ensure the security of grain and major non-staple foods”. While inspecting Jilin province last month, Xi also urged officials to ensure grain-supply security.

His latest instruction came as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warned in its Food Outlook report in June that food markets would face many more months of uncertainty related to the pandemic.

As the novel coronavirus outbreak has caused worries about food security, the Chinese government has assured the public that the food-supply situation is under control. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Changfu wrote in an opinion piece published on Friday in People’s Daily that China is “confident and capable of ensuring food security” despite the complex and grave domestic and international situation.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of food supplies. Its annual grain output has stayed above 650 million metric tons for five consecutive years since 2015. Despite the impact of the pandemic, China’s summer grain output stood at 142.8 million tons this year, up 1.21 million tons from last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The bumper grain harvest China achieved in the past years has played an important role in coping with the challenges and ensuring economic and social stability, Han said in his article.

Wasting food improvident extravagance: China Daily editorial

Every grain of rice on a dining plate is the drop of sweat of a grain grower. This is a line from an ancient poem President Xi Jinping quoted when calling for action to curb food waste.

With no hope that the global health crisis will come to an end any time soon, there have been warnings that food supplies face many more months of uncertainty and of looming food crises in some parts of the world, particularly for poorer countries.

Although China will have no such crisis, as it has had bumper harvests for a number of consecutive years and has ample grain reserves, that is no reason for people to be wasteful of food.

Given that extreme weather events are on the rise due to global warming and the uncertainties surrounding food production and distribution because of prevention and control measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, it is imperative that Chinese people develop a greater awareness of food security.

Indeed, in whatever circumstances, it is not just a bad habit but also heedless for people to cook more than they can eat at home and throw away the leftovers, or to order too much in a restaurant and leave what they cannot finish.

Altogether, the food wasted in restaurants amounted to 17 to 18 million tons in 2017, according to an investigation report. Such a large amount of wasted food is enough to feed 30 to 50 million people a year.

As early as 2013, Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, talked about fighting against any form of extravagance, and he has on many occasions stressed the importance of food security.

China is no stranger to food crises, and there is an ancient dictum that cautions of the need to remain alert against privation during days of adequacy, so as to never regret being too extravagant when in want of everything. This is as sage advice today as it was in the past.

No one has the freedom to waste food no matter how rich he or she is. It is not an exaggeration to consider the deliberate waste of food as a crime. That is why Xi stressed the need to enhance legislation, strengthen supervision and put in place a permanent mechanism to stop food being wasted.

The effects of the pandemic should serve as an opportunity for Chinese people to develop the awareness and decent habit of treasuring every grain of rice. It is not a matter of personal freedom or human rights. It is a necessity to ensure there is always enough food to feed people.

Caterers echo call to curb food waste

Associations suggest adoption of ‘N-1 mode’ to avoid leftovers in restaurants

Catering associations across China are calling for efforts to stop the wasting of food and promote thrift among the public.

The Wuhan Catering Association in Hubei province has suggested people adopt an “N-1 mode “when they order at restaurants, which means that if people have food together, they should order dishes as if there were one fewer person to avoid wasting food.

It also suggested that restaurants should provide small-sized dishes, half-portioned dishes and to-go boxes for customers.

Some cities in Jiangsu, Henan and Hubei provinces have also promoted the N-1 or similar measures to stop the wasting of food, including marking the net contents of the dishes’ main ingredients on the menu.

On Wednesday, some national associations, including the China General Chamber of Commerce, the China Cuisine Association and the China Hotel Association, jointly proposed that the catering industry should curb food waste and promote thrift.

The associations made the proposal after President Xi Jinping underlined the need for greater awareness of the risks posed to China’s food security and called for efforts to curb the wasting of food.

The hashtag “N-1 mode” was trending on the social networking platform Sina Weibo on Wednesday. While some people doubt the effects of the campaign, it has been welcomed by many Chinese netizens.

“I cannot lose weight easily because I cannot help but eat up all the food on the plate,” said a netizen named “Among endless stars” on Weibo.

“I like the idea that restaurants will provide small-sized and half-portioned dishes.”

Liu Guoliang, president of Wuhan Catering Association, said that traditional Chinese culture contributes to the wasting of food in the country.

“People used to think that ordering more than enough food for guests could show their respect for the guests,” Liu said. “That tradition should be changed. We suggest that people should order less food at first, and then add some dishes later if needed.”

He said that since 2013 the association has suggested local people order less food and pack leftovers at restaurants, which has greatly reduced the wasting of food in the city.

“Both serving chopsticks at each plate for customers and ordering less food have become common sense in Wuhan,” Liu said.

According to the Beijing Catering Association, the city’s kitchen waste has fallen by 25 percent since it started suggesting people order less.

It has asked restaurant workers to remind customers to order less and even take their unfinished bottled water with them when they leave the restaurants. Some restaurants have also provided discounts and coupons for customers who finish all their food.

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Aug. 13, 2020