' Turn over a new 'Leaf' - Stop food wastage

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Turn over a new 'Leaf' - Stop food wastage
By Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira

June 18, 2013

We generally try to relate our articles on nature conservation during a significant occurrence or celebration of environmental activities to help youngsters connect more deeply towards nature. The world has just celebrated World environment day on June 5th. World Environment day is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action, involving everyone from all corners of the globe. The World Environment day was instituted in 1972 by the United Nations Environment Programme to stimulate world awareness of the environment and encourage political attention and action.

Schools and colleges have just reopened and all concerned; parents, students, teachers and professors are full of enthusiasm and new found energy. We hope this new academic year will instill a new sense of collective responsibility and inspire each of us to be guardians of nature in our own humble way.

This article helps you reflect on two key issues. First; conservation and the second regarding the wastage of food.

This year's (2013) theme for World Environment Day celebrations stands out as "THINK, EAT, SAVE". The theme highlights on various aspects of anti food waste and food loss that encourages each one to reduce their food print. It is time to act now, because the enormous imbalance in life styles and the resultant devastating effects on the environment is causing irreparable loss to many critical ecosystems, across the globe, especially in the Third World and developing countries. In the coming years, lack of food and water security will result in social unrest. FAO estimates that a third of global food production is either wasted or lost. Food waste is an enormous drain on natural resources and a contributor to negative environmental impacts.

During the wedding season, spread across India, we have noticed that on a given day in a small city like Mangalore, there are at least half a dozen weddings and at least 25 % of the invitees are common resulting in enormous food wastages. Can we bring out an innovative approach to stop this wastage?

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same produced in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.

Food waste is an enormous drain on natural resources and a contributor to negative environmental impacts. If food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the food are also lost. For example, it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 liter of milk and about 16,000 liters goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions from the cows themselves, and throughout the food supply chain, all end up in vain when we waste food.

In fact, the global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land and is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change.

The Amazing Leaf Insect

The second part of the article pertains to the rare leaf insect found inside the Western Ghats forest range.

The pictures of the leaf insect that you are about to view is a result of our work spread over two decades in mapping the biodiversity of the western Ghats. If you observe closely, one can find small yet significant differences among the 4 different leaf insects pictured at different time intervals.

Coming to the Amazing Leaf insect....It is one of the best masters of disguise in terms of camouflage. The entire insect resembles a leaf and it is very difficult to spot the insect foraging on leaves. When the insect walks, it gently sways its whole body from side to side giving the appearance of a leaf blowing in the wind. The leaf insect when young has also developed mechanisms capable of regeneration where in it can cast off parts of its legs when a predator threatens it. The part of the leg then grows back to normal. However, once it has reached its adulthood, it can no more replace the lost limb.

Physical Characteristics: Leaf insects commonly referred to as "Walking Leaf" are flat green insects, with leaf like appearance and are herbivorous in nature. The leaf like forms usually bear a striking resemblance to foliage, exhibiting leaf veins, mildew spots and even apparent insect feeding damage. Color and form provide protection by allowing these insects blend with their environment Leaf insects are green and have extremely flattened, irregularly shaped bodies, wings, and legs; they are usually about 4 in. (10 cm) long. Their wings often have venation similar to that of the leaves on which they live. Females are flightless and so the hind wings have no function. The eggs of leaf insects are scattered on the ground. The young resemble the adults except for their smaller size and reddish color; shortly after they begin feeding on leaves they turn green. Leaf insects are tropical in distribution and range from India to the Fiji Islands. Scientists studying these insects have stated that these creatures have not significantly changed for the last 50 million years ever since they first evolved.

Species Information

Habitat: Found in a variety of habitats including tropical forests dry forest and grasslands.

Size: Species of leaf insect range from 28mm to 113mm

Conservation status: IUCN Red List: Unknown for many species

Threats: Birds, amphibians and reptiles. Some species imported in great numbers for the pet trade

Diet: Variety of leaves

Interesting fact: Males are very rarely seen. Females are able to reproduce through parthenogenesis, where they can lay fertile eggs without a male. Their camouflage is one of the best systems in nature – not only does their body have leaf “veins”, some of them develop brown edges that mimic a damaged real leaf.


These herbivorous and nocturnal leaf insects live not only in dense forests but are also found to thrive well in fringe forests close to human habitation. However, if one browses through the world wide web, one can find very little information regarding the occurrence, behavior and over all ecology of the Indian leaf insect. They are known to thrive in the Western Ghats and it is in our hands to make a pledge during World environment day to protect its habitat. It is a fact that the vast expanses of tropical forest have become increasingly threatened in the last one decade, as large commercial companies back clearance schemes for commercial activity. Ultimately, we need to ask ourselves if man himself has become too efficient a Predator?


Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira - Archives



Comments on this article
dalu, mangaloreSaturday, July 27, 2013
we need your collaboration for a campaign against food wastage. we are students from St Aloysius College Mangalore
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Stop food wastage , KollamTuesday, June 25, 2013
The article does present how nature takes care to recycle every bit and there is none gone to waste. With modern lifestyles and materialism - we have evolved new social orders to waste food easily ..forgetting the time and energy behind its creation. One commendable effort to be appreciated is the one taken up by the Dhabawallas at Mumbai.

This articles does present another lesson to be researched further. Thanks for keeping us informed.
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J M Bhandary, Mangaalore/ USATuesday, June 25, 2013
Dr. Anand & Geeta,
Thanks for your kind reply. I really appreciate it. I come to Mangalore every two to three years and during my next visit, would like to visit your place (if convenient to you). Could you share your address a little better (I had difficulty in locating Kirehully estate in the internet) and if it is ok with you, please send me your E-mail. You may send it to my E-mail:


Thanks again and best wishes for your continued success in research in this area...
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Venitha D'Souza, ManipalMonday, June 24, 2013
Today the entire world is trying to educate children about not wasting food.If we educate the girl child/mothers about the importance of not wasting food.An entire family will benefit.

Government must provide subsidies not for growing food but for storing food because a lot of the food we produce gets wasted due to lack of storage facilities.The pressure on the land will decrease in this way and the amount of food suitable for consumption will also increase.
India is an Agricultural country and we must think of growing a variety of crops if we want the green insect to survive.If the insect is disturbing the farmers.Then we must think of planting another crop which the insect likes better.

Your artice is an interesting read and the quality of images captured make it even more interesting.
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Rudolf Rodrigues, Mangalore/MumbaiMonday, June 24, 2013
Very informative and thought provoking article topped with wonderful picts! Can imagine the effort and dedication to do this! Food is wasted only by the rich and well off and majority of our poor peasants cannot even manage two square meals in today's high inflation!!

Those were the days living in a farmers house and seeing not a speck of food going waste!! Even the leftovers were turned into some other dish and devoured and there was tremendous enjoyment in that compared to todays junk foods like chips/burgers and what not which are weakening our children both mentally and physically!! Indeed frugality which we learn from this ubiquitous leaf insect can instill in us immense values of how nature functions!!

Dr. Anand would request you to also write a very good article on rain water harvesting, conservation, and allied subjects (if you are doing it in your estates) as I feel water will become one of the most precious commodity in another decade!! Wars will be fought for water!! Already alarm bells are ringing, but who cares!!

Comment on this message     

Prof. Krishanarajpu, DharwadMonday, June 24, 2013
Dear Titus
Great work as usual!
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Dr.Anand & Geeta Pereira, Sakleshpur/MangaloreMonday, June 24, 2013
Dear Sri.Bhandary, our Ecofriendly plantation is named after our father as "Joe's Ecofriendly coffee Plantations, Sakleshpur, Karnataka State.The Plantation is located in Hassan District.
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J M Bhandary, Mangalore/ USASunday, June 23, 2013
Dr. Anand and Geetha,
What is the name of your Coffee estate and farm? in Chickmagaluru?
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Dr.Anand & Geeta, Sakleshpur/MangaloreSunday, June 23, 2013
Friends, Thank you for the time taken in writing words of encouragement and also inspiring us to write yet another article.
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Allen Pais, BrisbaneSunday, June 23, 2013
Dear Dr Anand & Geeta.
It gives me immense pleasure reading & going through each article of yours,every time you come up with new research that gives me more & more knowledge & realization that brings me closer to nature,Your extensive research for the development of nature is highly appreciated & will be always remembered for generations to come,I am sure there is a lot of effort involved in the midst of your day to day Coffee growers responsibility to run Joe's sustainable Eco Friendly Coffee farm,It is rather simple when we read & we do acknowledge the mind set & the drive to be proactive towards nature,every day,every minute & every second.It is a fact that can be not only read but can be seen when we proceed towards the Gates of Joe's sustainable Coffee farm,each leaf/plant speaks the same language of what you project in your article,in simple words,WALK THE TALK.If we all are as committed as you are & if we all moved in the direction of your coffee growing methods in the simplest possible way economically then the Coffee industry in India would see better days,It is a difficult profession with the farmer waiting on the Rain forecast for his blossom to take place at a particular time of the year,You have crossed all these barriers & decide your own rain based on the reserve you have accumulated all year,very well said but i know it takes years of hard work & dedication to invest,implement the resources,Your achievements are well recognized & Thank You & Geeta-Allen
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Nick Hoogenraad, Melbourne, AustraliaSaturday, June 22, 2013
Dear Titus, You and your wife are an inspiration to all of us. We have seen and enjoyed first hand your unfliching commitment to creating a sustainable and better world to leave to our children.
The elaf insect you find in your plantation must be one of teh best examples of evolution. The photos are worderful and should be used by teachers to illustrate the principle of mimicry.
Until we meet again, best wishes from your firends in Australia.

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VASUDEV SHENOY, MANGALORESaturday, June 22, 2013
...hi anand ...no words to comment on this article( its amazing) .. god the creator is great ...........
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such an amazing article with wonderful photos, very much grateful to read thank u very much Anand
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J M Bhandary, Mangalore/ USASaturday, June 22, 2013
A great article ..I agree with all the many reasons outlined here for reducing food wastage. Article and pictures of the "Leaf Insect" is truly amazing. These are rare pictures..thanks for the research, documentation and sharing.
Comment on this message     

V.Baretto, Bantwal-BangaloreFriday, June 21, 2013
good lesson from Anand and Geetha to those who waste food. I had spent 16 years in Plantations around Anand's place but never came across the insect Anand and Geetha referred to nor did my then Boss Richard Radcliffe, who experimented a lot on coffee diseases. All the best Anand and Geetha.
Comment on this message     

George a. Pais, URWAFriday, June 21, 2013
Very informative and thought proving article by Anand and Geeta, specially on the importance of maintaining our Western ghats, this needs to be decimated to the High school children level for a timely and effective awareness by the people and to avoid catastrophic like just taken place at North India
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RICO, UdupiFriday, June 21, 2013
Truly amazing and unbelievable...... , Please try to bring more awareness about environment and conservation of nature coz the next generation are the ones that are threatened by depletion of natural sources and prone to natural disasters.
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Romola Pereira, Sakleshpur/MangaloreThursday, June 20, 2013
Proud of the work that you do with passion and zeal. The apt message regarding food wastage needs to be tackled on a war footing.The leaf insect pictures are simply out of this world.
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Dr. Jacob D'Souza, London/U.K.Thursday, June 20, 2013
Very interesting stuff Anand
Best wishes,
Comment on this message     

Anjali, Victoria/AustraliaThursday, June 20, 2013
Great images Titus!
Keep up the good work.
Much love to all
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Tony Crasta, Sydney/MangaloreThursday, June 20, 2013
Well researched, educative and interesting article Drs. Anand and Geeta! Fully agree with the massive food shortage during weddings and functions. Have seen those grass hoppers and insects including the green leafy insect before in my younger days destroying our valuable crops but could little about it. Quite valuable advice regarding food wastage and people should take not of it.
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nihal, Mangalore/SakleshpurWednesday, June 19, 2013
awesome pics dad.This article was very enlightning to all of us.
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Joe Britto, Nakre/BangaloreWednesday, June 19, 2013
What an amazing article by our friends of the Earth ! THANKS.
Man only needs to study carefully how insects live especially the Ants & Bees and try to follow their frugal lives.
We are reminded of our Agriculture College days . The Leaf Insect- Phylliidae adapts by using its camouflaging skills. Young leaf insects are first red in color and turn green after eating many green leaves.
Amongst the Threats mentioned : Birds, amphibians and reptiles,
The biggest threat is indeed the two legged man who has bulldozed the forests due to his limitless greed.
We owe our lives and devotion to the next generation.
The true meaning of life is to better their life. And it is our honor and duty to see them progress. What we do for ourselve alone dies with us What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. - Albert Pike

A famous Indian saying: We are living on the legacy of our children and have a duty to perform and preserve the Earth.
Also when we took birth we did see a lot of trees around and by the time we die,we should certainly leave more trees around us .
Comment on this message     

Mohan Frank, Mangalore/ MumbaiWednesday, June 19, 2013
Dr. Anand, you have reminded us rightly about the wastage of food.In our young days i remember my grand mother telling me " Jevan sodlyar thuja Gomtyak bantha " ! yes it still rings a strong bell in my mind when i see people wasting food.Its a good reminder to the younger generation to learn the value of the food which is wasted by them. Thank you for your eye opener.
Regarding the leaf insect, its just amazing to watch such a insect which resembles a leaf,wonderful pictures again from your lovely camera.Thank you for sharing your world with us !
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Varun Baptist , Chikmagalur Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Informative Article
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John , U.S.AWednesday, June 19, 2013
Well written informative article.
Great pictures.
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Prashant, GoaWednesday, June 19, 2013
Thanks for the eye opening more than worth articles!!
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Sunil, Chikmagalur Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Interesting article
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Ingrid, PuneTuesday, June 18, 2013
Thanks for the link and provoking some thought in our minds about the wasteful lives we live.
Also, about the ‘Leaf Insect’. Lovely photography indeed.
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ad, mangloorTuesday, June 18, 2013
"Food for thought". Very appropriate article in the modern times. I tend to agree with the point that a lot of food is wasted in mangler during wedding times.
Besides that a lot of the food is wasted around the world particularly in western countries -north america, europe etc.on a daily basis. This food can feed billions of people around the world.
It is also said that more people die today with fast food habits and obesity than starvation.
Modern non-organic farming habits have destroyed the quality of food production and destroyed fertile soil due to chemical usage.

The world needs for common sense organic farming for long term sustainability and quality of food.

Companies like Monsanto are responsible for degradation of our crops including genetic modification and seed meddling patents for corporate profits.

Its time to educate the masses to know what is happening to our food supply and food waste.

Great article Drs. Anand and Gita.
Comment on this message     

Winster, CanadaTuesday, June 18, 2013
Simply astounding! Great job Anand and Geeta. Would you consider putting this in Wikipedia?
Comment on this message     

A. S. Mathew, U.S.A.Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Glad to read another interesting article. In the U.S. 40% of the food is wasted, eating at the restaurants and throwing away at homes to the trash bins, and the cost is 165 billion dollars/year. As the author has stated, 1.2 billion people are living with $ 1.25/day according to the recent World Bank report out of that 33% are in India (400 million). How much food is wasted in the marriage functions of the rich in India? When I atteneded the marriage of a relative of mine, I was greatly shocked to see the quantity of food wasted, and the hungry people in the vicinity! Can we take some abrupt and practical actions to avoid the waste and to feed some hungry people in our neighbourhood?
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L N Rego, BendurTuesday, June 18, 2013
Its nice to read an article on a very relevant subject. I admire Dr Anand for his dedication in the field and true interest to create a better planet. Keep up the good work.
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Anand, karkala/DubaiTuesday, June 18, 2013
Is it a "camouflage"? I had seen this type of insects and well written. I do agree that developed countries waste lot of food.
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Prakash Shenoy, Mangalore/IrelandTuesday, June 18, 2013
Amazing leaf insect, very interesting article. Thanks for sharing the knowledge about our natural world. Keep writing..
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HENRY MISQUITH, BahrainTuesday, June 18, 2013
Nice aticle, informative...thanks doctor saab. This species of leaf insect is very quiet during the day, but becomes active during the night. When they walk they will walk in a stop-go kind of way as if they are moved by the wind. The males can fly once they become adults, and they generally will do this often when disturbed. The females cannot fly.
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lyra/richard pinto, sakleshpur/mangaloreTuesday, June 18, 2013
One needs a lot of dedication and the drive which you guys, definitely have. A good write up with lovely illustrations. I need to go back and closely observe this leaf insect.Do agree on the food wastage part. Having a smaller spread might really work. Best wishes on your future articles.
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Samir Puthalakath, MelbourneTuesday, June 18, 2013
Nature at its best! Millions of years of evolution!!
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Della Rego, Mangalore, QatarTuesday, June 18, 2013
Interesting about walking leaf insect. I was not aware of this at all before. God's creation is so amazing. Thanks for this. Yes wastage of food in developed country is too much. Well done article on both subjects.
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Vijay, BangaloreTuesday, June 18, 2013
Thank you very much for this informative article. Very nice one!
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flavian dsouza, chik/banagloreTuesday, June 18, 2013
very interesting..never knew something like leaf insect exists
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gerald, modankapTuesday, June 18, 2013
god bless you.
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