The food we threw away

The average rubbish bin in Singapore holds something quite unexpected for some. Discover what happens when we realise exactly how much food we discard without a second thought. makan mantra is a student-led initiative to reduce food waste in Singapore.

There are observable wastage in the office areas especially. And why’s that so?

  1. The food isn’t what we expect
  2. We might not be conscious over the amount of the food we are receiving
  3. Even if we do, the price of the food doesn’t typically decrease
  4. We buy additional food to share with others

1. The food isn’t what we expect

This is simple. I didn’t know this is so spicy so I couldn’t take it. I will go order something else.

Or maybe the spaghetti bolognese  looks terrible and didn’t taste good enough. We all want the best and at some point of time I tell myself I rather waste food than to take in food I do not want to eat. Is it fair to the hungry people in Afghanistan? Not at all. Do we still do it? Yes! Because by eating the horrible food, we gave in and accepted the extra calories and misery we could have easily deflected by just ordering something else. Food is affordable and happiness is at stake.

2. We might not be conscious over the amount of the food we are receiving

This happens quite often to me at least. I overestimate the amount of food I need in McDonald’s nearly all the time. The person at the cashier helpfully asks if I would like an upsize. Of course baby! Double upsize it, will you? And oh, change that drink to Milo. And you know what, I know want a sundae also, chocolate fudge please. Oh, Twister Fries? Why not?! Thank you!

And that’s how I end up with food I can’t finish. My fault? Maybe. But it does happen often because I’m not the one processing the food, the price of the food I am paying for is not significantly higher if I make these add ons. Sometimes I’m just feeling really hungry and I estimate my possible intake incorrectly.

3. Even if we do, the price of the food doesn’t typically decrease

Okay you go to Food Republic to have a meal. You order this beef noodle you know you cannot finish this time. So you ask if you could have lesser noodles. Do you get a discount? Nope. Same price as always.

This discourages me from even asking in the first place. It’s really market forces here acting, or rather the lack of. If things get cheaper, I might make a conscious effort to ask for lesser. More just doesn’t hurt the individual. I know you’re hating me right now, but cool off bro.

4. We buy additional food to share with others

This fried oyster egg thing. We always have a plate of it as an extra because someone in the party would have the craving for it. (I never have this craving, by the way.) So this person will order it but he or she will never just have it alone right? So they share, which itself is a beautiful gesture.

Let’s define the scenario clearer. There are 4 people, and Person A wants some sinful fried oyster egg. So Person A’s gonna buy a small portion, costing 3$. It’s great, and perhaps everybody’s happy. What if there are 8 people? Person A’s not going to just get a small portion. Okay, make it a large then, 5$. Person A can afford it and is willing to share with friends. And to worsen things a little, Person A doesn’t tell anyone he or she’s ordering fried oyster egg to share since Person A isn’t expecting anyone else to pay, it’s a treat. Now let me introduce Person B. Person B is very much like Person A, only that he likes fried carrot cake this time and similarly he got a large portion of it, 5$, gonna share too.

So effectively we ended up with an abundance of food we cannot finish and the cleaning dude shaking his head in disgust.

So what can I do better?

This works for me but might not for you. I always look at what others are having and sometimes I see something that looks nice and I order it. For those cases at least it is easy to recognize that I might not be able to finish the food and I order less of it.

If the person whom you’re eating with is close to you, half your portions and share this way. Also announcing that you’re going to buy something to share might give you a good idea who might be disinterested with the addons you are ordering.

Lastly, the less popular opinion, maybe food prices can still be increased.

IBM shrunk Watson to pizza box size

Moving on with Watson (from Forbes):

IBM’s Watson Gets Its First Piece Of Business In Healthcare

Over the past two years, IBM’s researchers have shrunk Watson from the size of a master bedroom to a pizza-box-sized server that can fit in any data center. And they improved its processing speed by 240%.

Even before the Jeopardy! success, IBM began to hatch bigger plans for Watson and there are few areas more in need of supercharged decision-support than health care.

WellPoint’s chief medical officer Samuel Nussbaum said at the press event today that health care pros make accurate treatment decisions in lung cancer cases only 50% of the time (a shocker to me). Watson, since being trained in this medical specialty, can make accurate decisions 90% of the time.

This is just amazing.

Phone applications fatigue

I’m having a bit of fatigue on phone applications, especially those phone applications that work well as mere web applications. Some web sites would prompt you to get the iPhone version of their website. That just serves very little benefit to me as a consumer. In fact it breaks the flow of things! Worse, you keep having to upgrade it on your phones to get new features for an application that you probably use once a week. One day my phone might feature a whole directory of websites. Things have to change, people will realize the problems with this soon. And stop of the apps. Enough is enough.

iPhone 5 and its camera

From ValueWalk:

The theory is that the more devices the iPhone 5 can replace, the higher the utility of the device to consumers is, and the higher price they will pay. The iPhone 5 currently works as a phone, and for most customers as an mp3 player. It also serves to delay some of the time spent on personal computers for certain segments of the market.

A second benefit of the all-in-one model is that when consumers seek to update one function of their device, i.e. their camera, they have to replace the entire product, at full cost. The market model is a great one for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), but the iPhone 5 has yet to replace cameras.

This is so true. I’m been thinking about that and when I get a new phone, I’m looking at all sorts of features that I do not need. I have a camera and the iPhone 5 one probably isn’t going to be better but I still get attracted to it anyway.

One day phone device makers will get away just with a significant update to a particular feature and everyone’s just going to get new phones. This is perhaps already happening.

Back from Dominican Republic

I’ve been back for a while. Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean’s and the place is really beautiful. Not many Singaporeans go there though. The immigration staff haven’t heard of the country Singapore and we were questioned on the weather and the language we speak. I said it’s warm and English is our language of choice!

Resting on the beach
Resting on the beach

Interesting learnings:

  • Interesting is the country lives off tourism basically. Most of the tourists are Americans and they love the sun and the island getaway options.
  • A couple of Dominicanos saw me and started doing the Gangnam Style dance, wanted to tell them I am not from Korean.
  • “Hola” is the basic greeting and it makes them happy.
  • Spanish is their official language but most Dominicanos working at the resort have at least basic understanding on English.
  • My next other favorite word is “gracias.” It brings happiness.
  • Infrastructure isn’t great in Dominican Republic in general. However at the resort place — Punta Cana — it is decent.
  • Punta Cana International airport looks like a resort already!
Punta Cana International Airport
Punta Cana International Airport