Let’s Talk: Ramadan – a Month of Waste?

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Let’s Talk: Ramadan – a Month of Waste?

Can you believe we’re already at the end of ramadan? I remember at the beginning of ramadan questioning how I would surive a whole month (minus a week courtsey of That Which Must Not be Named) without my morning cup of tea (pisali juuno beng yeloo le kono, mo kanang blame!) but, as if in a flash, Eid is looming. 

As the end of ramadan approaches, I thought now would be the perfect time to reflect on the past month, both the good and the bad. Ramadan is, in every sense of the word, a month of abundance. It is abundant in blessings, in good deeds, in reflections and in calmness; but, it’s also abundant in waste. 

I find it weird that during ramadan, a month when we spend the majority of our time not eating, as opposed to cutting costs and focusing more on the spiritual side of things, most households pile up on food, on drinks and on other things they THINK they’ll consume after ndogu (but never really do). 

I feel that as muslims, ramadan is the perfect time for us to be smart with our finances. Less on food and more on charity. But disturbingly, my experience so far has been filled with half-eaten plates of plasas, leftover benachin that ends up in the bin and nyambo ning nyebeh that stayed in the fridge until mould began to develop. 

I’m not excluding myself from this narrative, I too am guilty of planning ahead of time all that I hope to consume. Start with mono whitened with Peak Milk or Nido ( or if I’m feeling gangsta, both) then attack the benachin with my pointy spoon ( perfect for cutting subo), after, drink a cup of mborrmborr (without milk- I’ve learned my lesson) to ease digestion and finish off with a bowl of fruit salad because health. Many a times, I’ve actually convinced myself that I could pull off this feat but alas, that has never been the case. 

Furthermore, I understand the difficulties in trying to cut down waste because culturally, Gambians don’t plan food for themselves without considering the 100 lungtangos that could unexpectedly, possibly, maybe someday drop by. My attempts at portion control are always met with chipus and shouts of “kana moolu kono sumang”. For us, food is not just sustenance but a familial and communal affair. Over the plate of durango is where daily activities are recounted and gossip is shared but we have to find some way to control ourselves. It is very contradictory to me that a month that is aimed to teach us gratitude, and bring contentment and make us aware of how lucky we (yes every single one of us) are can also be so devastatingly wasteful. I don’t know about you but whenever I see a plate of rice, which is enough to feed a small family, go in the bin because it was simply too much, I feel guilty because I know for a fact that there is/are someone(s) out there who is desperately in need of it.

Let’s not even get started on the fact that whenever I make suggestions that we cook and share the food with neighbours or other Gambians in the community it gets disregarded as if it’s the most absurd concept since reverse racism. People have justified this saying that it’s too much work, that it could create drama or that if this happens, those people whom food is shared with will become dependent and expect it all the time. 

Never mind that when you feed a person who is fasting, Allah (SWT) rewards you for their fast as well. Never mind that it’s the decent thing to do or that it requires no extra effort except that of reaching out. 

                       

I’m very heated about this topic, because, in case you can’t tell, food is the very air that I breathe.

So here are my 5 tips that you should maabo somewhere very safe and use next ramadan inshaAllah : 

  1. When you’re preparing food, remember that you’ll spend the majority of your time NOT eating. Don’t make three full meals and expect it to be finished in a space of 5+ hours. 
  2. Share with others! It won’t kill you, I promise. I’ve tried it before. Look at me, I’m exhibit A. 
  3. Take your food budget and halve it. Give the half to charity. 
  4. Eat leftovers. You don’t have to cook every single day. E baloo dahandi domanding. 
  5. Buy food in actual quantities. Don’t buy 20 bananas if you know that you and your family can only manage 5 per week.

Rant over. Eid Mubarak.

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