Those of you who have been here for more than a week know that food waste is a topic near and dear to my heart. In fact, concern over my own personal food waste was the impetus behind my very first (and now defunct) blog, Confessions of a Recovering Food Waster (that’s the one that gave birth to this blog!).
Back then, I ran across Jonathan Bloom’s blog, Wasted Food, and was thrilled to see that someone else was blogging about food waste too.
He hasn’t just been blogging, though…for several years now, he’s been working on writing a book about food waste, and that book is American Wasteland. When I got back from vacation a few weeks ago, an advance reading copy was waiting for me in my mail pile (isn’t the post-vacation mail fun? It’s kind of like Christmas on a really small scale!).
I think I was the first person other than Bloom himself to get a copy, and I was trying really hard to be the first person to read the whole book, but I’ve been informed that his parents finished it in a weekend.
Anyways, I read the book from cover to cover and was enlightened, inspired, and also a little bit discouraged to learn about the massive food waste that takes place in my country.
I might be getting somewhere close to being an expert on in-home food waste, but Bloom’s expertise goes way beyond that. He does talk about home food waste in his book, but he also delves into the waste that happens on our farms, in our processing plants, in our grocery stores, in our restaurants, and in our cafeterias.
The sheer volume of food that’s wasted in these places is staggering…literal tons of food are thrown away every day. And what’s especially distressing about that is the fact that people in our country are going hungry at the same time. We have all this excess food and it’s not getting to the people that need it.
Well, not all of it is. I was encouraged to learn of the many food recovery efforts going on, both large and small. On the large side are non-profit organizations that send semis to pick up excess produce and on the small side, students on one college campus give their extra cafeteria food to fellow students (this process even has a name…scrounging!).
Of course, the best thing to do with excess food is to give it to people who are hungry, but Bloom says the next best thing is to convert it into something useful by composting it (Amen! You can do this at home for $5.) or turning it into fuel (which, uh, you can’t do at home. At least not here…people in China do it all the time!). I was encouraged to hear about how some restaurants and cafeterias are beginning to compost their waste, and also thrilled to read about how they’re using computer software to reduce the amount of waste they have in the first place.
At the end of the book, Bloom offers a number of great suggestions on how to reduce large-scale food waste, and I hope those suggestions reach the people with the power to change things.
You and I probably are not going to bring about changes that will reduce the waste that pours out of the institutions, but we can start in our own kitchens. Bloom offers some practical tips that mirror my own (plan a menu, eat leftovers, shop with a list, etc.), and even mentions Food Waste Friday (pg. 86, in case you wanted to know!). I’m usually pretty inspired about using up my food, but reading through American Wasteland gave me fresh motivation and I’m quite sure it’ll have the same effect on you.
So, go read it! Buy it from Amazon, reserve it at your library, borrow it from a friend….but read it. If you’re not quite sure why food waste is a big deal, this book will convince you, and if you’re already on the anti-food-waste wagon, this book will offer fresh inspiration.
(just so you know, I have not been paid to review this book. I love to talk about food waste and certainly don’t need monetary compensation to do so! I received an advance reading copy, but that’s all.)
Today’s 365 post: I have to give my tomato plant props.