Baghdad today – Baghdad
Sustainable cooking is one of the modern methods of preparing food in a way that does not cause excessive consumption of natural resources and can continue in the future without harming the environment or health. With the launch of International Sustainable Gastronomy Day activities, which was designated by the United Nations on June 18 each year, to encourage the idea of sustainability, we highlight Iraq’s suffering from the problem of waste and food waste. while millions live below the poverty line.
The organization recommends that all individuals contribute to the fight against food waste by cooking less, sharing food with neighbors and raising the awareness of our communities, as well as the need for systematic change in key industries to address food waste.
Iraq and waste
According to a report released by the United Nations Environment Program, Iraq ranks second in food waste after Bahrain in the Central Asian region, where the Iraqi individual consumes 120 kilograms of food per year, while the total waste per year amounts to about 5 million. tons of food. .
United Nations Development Program Permanent Representative to Iraq Zina Ali Ahmed explains that sustainable cooking is about producing, cooking and consuming food in a way that has little impact on the environment.
She adds that sustainable food systems aim to avoid damaging or losing natural resources and can help combat the effects of climate change, as they focus on buying local produce.
On the future of food in Iraq, Zina reports that climate change is one of the biggest threats to food security in Iraq or in the world at large, and that Iraq is among the top five countries most vulnerable to climate change, the frequency in increase of disasters. and weather phenomena such as high temperatures and lack of rain, high salinity, and frequent dust storms all have a devastating impact on food security and livelihoods.
She adds that water scarcity is also a major issue and threat to agricultural production, stressing, “We are working with the Iraqi government to find solutions to mitigate and adapt the effects of climate change.”
Zeina emphasizes that food plays an important role in supporting peace and social cohesion. Hospitality and generosity are vital elements in Iraqi culture and food unites us around the world, allowing us to speak a common language and understand each other better by learning about unique traditions with each other.
The UN envoy referred to the United Nations Development Program in Iraq through the Book of Food, which delves into the history and culture of food in Iraq, as well as focusing on the traditions of each Iraqi governor individually.
Omar Al-Badrany, director of the International Federation office of the Association of Arab Chefs in Iraq, says sustainable cooking is a cultural expression associated with the world’s natural and cultural diversity and plays a major role in promoting agricultural development. The main importance of sustainable cooking is to reduce waste and save resources.
He adds that the United Nations has set this day because eating sustainable indigenous food makes a huge difference to the environment and the economy, and the United Nations expects that by 2050 9 billion people should be fed, and at the present time 32% of the world’s food is wasted either in the production process or due to sufficiency.
On the other hand, Chef Mohammad Qassem stressed the importance of sustainable cooking and its vital role in preserving Iraq’s resources and environment.
He adds that food security problems in Iraq came about due to rising food prices, population growth, rising unemployment and the transformation of agricultural areas into dwellings; Which mainly affected food security.
Qasim points out that the lack of support for the national product, the negligence of farms and farmers, and the lack of water led to the lack of product and a change in the climatic atmosphere of Iraq.
Iraqi cuisine is one of the oldest cuisines in the world and is characterized by several unique dishes, and there are specialized organizations that open courses to teach sustainable cooking and food consumption and to raise awareness about it, according to a member of the Association of Iraqi chefs. , Shef Ali Al-Kaabi.
Al-Kaabi expresses its regret over the lack of activities in Iraq for Sustainable Cooking Day, with the lack of activities related to cooking in general.
Al-Kaabi points out that Iraqi cuisine prefers to rely on local meat, poultry, fish and vegetable products and strives to preserve its originality by keeping pace with development.
He points out that many Iraqi dishes are similar in countries around the world. Their distinctive taste and aroma pushes Iraqis to stick to their popular cuisine, especially southern masmouta, kibbeh Mosul, dolma and masgouf fish, among others. dishes, considering Iraqi cuisine as very rich.
Al-Kaabi emphasizes the importance of the relationship between cuisine and nature, as waste reduction provides things that are beneficial to the environment, while misuse of food turns it into waste that harms the nature and environment of Iraq.
Al-Kaabi called on Iraqis to pay attention to sustainable cooking and food preservation, given the conditions the country is going through in all aspects, especially the severe environmental damage and desertification we are seeing.
Economic expert, Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Mashhadani, believes that Iraq is at the top of the countries in terms of extravagance and food loss due to the unique dietary model that distinguishes Iraqis from others in the region.
He adds that when a guest comes to an Iraqi house, whether for a poor man, a widow or a clan elder, he finds it serving the most luxurious food, in order to appear in the best photo, to show off the diploma base and honor the guest.
Al-Mashhadani finds that there is a large amount of food waste in restaurants, homes, and even on religious occasions, and visits to which large quantities of food are cooked and collective festivities can last for days.
The economist notes that extravagance at banquets has become part of the culture that children inherit from their parents and consider it a kind of generosity, but in fact it is a waste of resources.
He points out that there are about 4.5 million Iraqis below the poverty line and they are at risk of starvation, while we find that at least half of the Iraqi population consumes food, so the lost food is enough to feed the hungry Iraqis and more a lot.
Al-Mashhadani urges to take advantage of the Turkish experience in agreement with restaurant owners to get the surplus food and prepare it well in order to distribute it to poor families, after preparing a database for the poor and the needy in every region.
He emphasizes that despite the existence of social solidarity carried out by some religious associations and institutions in Iraq in an effort to reduce hunger, it is a limited role and needs greater activation.
Al Hatmi: Fallujah Ash Preservation Initiative provides food for more than 300 families a day
save the ashes
Iraq has witnessed many initiatives to collect surplus food and distribute it to the needy, or to put it in a refrigerator in a public place to be taken by anyone.
Regarding these initiatives, the director of the ongoing charity kitchen in the city of Fallujah (western Iraq), Yassin Al-Hatemi, says that they launched in 2017 the “Save the Ashes” initiative, in agreement with the city’s restaurants and the owners of big events and banquets, whether funerals or weddings, where their team collects and arranges this food, and then distributes it to needy families and orphans.
And he emphasizes that their initiative is self-initiated and voluntary, away from the parties and have no government support or affiliation, and he called for the initiative to be generalized throughout Iraq to reduce food waste.
Al-Hatami suggested placing leftover food containers in every neighborhood so that everyone could take the initiative, and that there should be campaigns through mosques and social media sites to educate people about the importance of sustainable cooking and ash conservation. .
On their own initiative, Al-Hatemi explains that they were able to provide food for more than 300 families a day and within a short period of time, in cooperation with many restaurants in the city, each according to its means.