In a country where thousands of citizens live by less than a dollar a day, some people might think that throwing an extra piece of California Rolls into a Sushi Bar’s litter won’t hurt anyone, but in the real world, it actually does.
The gap between socio-economic statuses in Egypt could hurt one’s eye, as it’s getting wider each year. A lot of Egyptian households get rid of their food leftovers by taking the wrong procedures. While some find it hard to obtain their daily bread, others throw unopened cans in litters. According to the Egyptian Food Bank, 16 Million meals are thrown in the trash monthly, an amount of leftovers that could be fed to millions of Egyptians who only get face to face with calcium in holy feasts. Meanwhile, a great percentage of citizens aren’t aware of the condition lower class citizens are living by. Others are completely aware, but they think that they’re not capable of solving the gap between the starving and the full. We went to dig into a number of Egypt’s household litters to monitor the different procedures families take in getting rid of their food leftovers.
“Some people might think that throwing an extra piece of California Rolls into a Sushi Bar’s litter won’t hurt anyone, but in the real world, it actually does.”
In a duplex in Heliopolis district, Hala, a single mum lives with her four young teenage boys who happen to be ‘junk food addicts’ as she calls them. Before going through the door, we spotted piles of junk food packages, paper cups and pizza cartons piled all over their garbage can. To make matters worse, slices of pizza, spilled coke, and a full pack of fries were all scattered around the garbage can, an amount that could have made 3 Combo Meals. “I know we have issues getting to deal with thrown away food, but my boys don’t eat yesterday’s leftovers. I talked them into microwaving the remained food, but they think it’ll be tasteless. In my opinion, junk food is originally tasteless and if re-heated in the next day, it’ll be more tasteless, so why would I torment myself when I could afford buying fresh meals every day?” Hala tells us. Most people get rid of their junk food leftovers in Egypt, as they don’t like benefiting from it a few hours later, but on the other hand, thousands of citizens won’t find any problem swallowing it cold, second-hand or even raw. “Yes, I’m aware that a lot of Egyptians would need our leftovers, but would I go looking for them after every meal to see who needs it? I just don’t know the right route to transfer the food to the needy” she says.
In Mohandisin district, Iman a housewife and a mother of 2 took another passage to get rid of her leftovers, thinking that the best thing to do is to pass on the food to her doorman or maid, “well I think it’s a positive thing to do that as someone may benefit from your leftovers. I don’t know any deprived than my doorman or maid. Sometimes in Ramadan, I pack up the remains of Iftar and send the doorman to give it to homeless people, but I’m actually not sure they’re safely delivered” Iman tells us. Thinking of your doorman or maid as ‘the needy’ may be sometimes a thing of the past as these people are very good at making sure never to go to bed without dinner, however, there are thousands of people out there who don’t get the salary of maids and doormen today.
“In Ramadan, I give out a decent amount of food for the needy, but to tell you the truth, that happens only in the holy month as there are huge amount of food remains after Iftar. Egyptians tend to cook extra meals for their Iftar meals and that’s not good, as they deprive people with limited income to get their daily bread. In Ramadan, the prices rise to a devastating level and we B-Class citizens find it sometimes hard to buy essentials, I wonder how people of lower socio-economic statuses manage to buy food after a long day of fasting” Sally, a mother of 2 and a University Professor says.
“On the other side of the pond, there are people who collect money for a dish of Foul that costs a few pennies, and for the record, their Foul excludes bread.”
Khaled Saad, a business man and a father of 4 thinks that Egyptians tend to order huge amount of food at restaurants more than their appetite can handle, “We Egyptians love the fact of ordering more than we need, especially at restaurants with family gatherings. We need to focus more on our food orders. When I go out to eat with my family on Fridays, I collect the leftovers in one dish and I take them as a Take-Away home, Mesh 3eib. Egyptians perceive this as cheeseparing, but isn’t that better than throwing half of your sandwich? My kids didn’t like what I do, and thought its embarrassing to do so in public, but I don’t care as long as it’s really a positive thing to do” Khaled tells us. Salma Ahmed, a marketing executive and a fiancée of a graphic designer thinks its very cheap of her fiancée to do so, as its inappropriate in hotel restaurants to ask for a Take-Away, “I prefer to order less amount of food than collecting the remains for a Take-Out. Sorry but I can’t have dinner at the Four Seasons Lebanese restaurant and ask the waiter to pack the remained Kofta for a Take-Away! It’s very embarrassing and I assure you no one would ever to that” Salma tells us. “In some Open Buffet dining restaurants, customers can manage to be reasonable at filling their plates, but we Egyptians not just extravagant in choosing our restaurants (although sometimes we cant afford them) but we are also very good at layering up our dishes at Open Buffet restaurants. I won’t get a Take-Away, but I’ll manage to keep it light when I fill my plate” Salma adds.
“At the time we are fabulously dressed for a fancy dinner, we just need to measure the amount of food ordered and left out, to be able to squeeze the gap between the food we eat and the food we dump!”
On the other side of the pond, there are people who collect money for a dish of Foul that costs a few pennies, and for the record, their Foul excludes bread. The Shabrawy, Tabei Domiaty and Gad are considered places for people who have got wallets in their pockets regardless the wallet size. Ibrahim Megahed, driver for an elite family in New Cairo, thinks that he’s considered one of the good socio-economic statuses as he could afford Falafel sandwiches with salad, “of course people who live in blocks or have a salary less than 200 L.E couldn’t afford these sandwiches. They buy their daily meals from very cheap ‘3arabeyet Foul’ without bread for 50 Piasters. People like me can rarely afford a kilo of meat with 80 LE, but there are millions who can’t manage to buy Foul sandwiches from El Shabrawy” Ibrahim tells us.
Koshary meals are considered the lunch of many lower B-Class citizens, these who work in governmental sectors or small private businesses like that of sidewalk markets and workshops. The 5LE Koshary dish is the proper size for an adult, and with people earning less than 100 L.E a month in our country, it seems impossible to afford their daily lunch whether with Koshary or even Foul.
To wrap it up, at the time we are fabulously dressed for a fancy dinner, we just need to measure the amount of food ordered and left out, to be able to squeeze the gap between the food we eat and the food we dump to minimize the 16 million meals thrown in trash monthly.