American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)

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Overview


The Traffic and Affluenza of food waste: an eye-opening account of our culture of excess and waste-and what we can do to change it

Winner of the 2011 IACP Cookbook Award for Food Matters

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American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)

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Overview


The Traffic and Affluenza of food waste: an eye-opening account of our culture of excess and waste-and what we can do to change it

Winner of the 2011 IACP Cookbook Award for Food Matters

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Kirkus Reviews (starred review), 8/15/10
“An eye-opening account of what used to be considered a sin—the willful waste of perfectly edible food…Bloom is full of condemnation without being unduly scolding…Refreshingly, Bloom offers solutions as well as jeremiads, and not a minute too soon—an urgent, necessary book.”

Booklist, 10/1/10
“Journalist Bloom documents specifics about the nature of wasted food in the twenty-first century and calls into question both the economic efficiency and the morality of such profligacy.”
 

Publishers Weekly, 9/27 “Journalist Bloom follows the trajectory of America’s food from gathering to garbage bin in this compelling and finely reported study, examining why roughly half of our harvest ends up in landfills or rots in the field…Bloom’s most interesting point is psychological: we have trained ourselves to regard food as a symbol of American plenty that should be available at all seasons and times, and in dizzying quantities…[He] makes smart suggestions on becoming individually and collectively more food conscious.”

Huffington Post, 11/9/10
“Timely, terrific new book.”

Tucson Citizen, 11/23/10
“This book could change your life.”

TheAtlantic.com
“Rather than being yet another industrial food system downer of a book, this is a good read that somehow inspires rather than defeats…Bloom’s first-person reportage draws you in and will have you promising to always bring Tupperware from home when you go out to eat.”

TheDailyGreen.com,

“Bloom gives us the trash stats, but he also helps come up with everyday solutions you can put into action today.”
 

VegNews, February 2011
“An eye-opening read.”

Choice, April 2011
“Bloom’s book is worth consideration, not only because of his focus on the American food waste problem, but also because of his evident desire to do something about it. Recommended.”

Gastronomica, Fall 2011
“With a journalist’s attention to research and observation, and a do-gooder’s sense of urgency, he tackles [food waste] from different perspectives, examining links along our national food chain, including farms, supermarkets, restaurants, and individual kitchens.”

SergeTheConcierge.com, 8/23/11
“Worth the investment both for your wallet and for the planet.”
 

January Magazine, January 2011 “One of those non-fiction works that will alter lives and probably end up being made into a film one day. Winner of the IACP Cookbook Award (Food Matters category), it’s an important book that has the power to make a difference.”

Find Me Frugal (blog), 9/30/11 “Fascinating.”

Publishers Weekly
Since the Great Depression and the world wars, the American attitude toward food has gone from a "use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without" patriotic and parsimonious duty to an orgy of "grab-and-go" where food's fetish and convenience qualities are valued above sustainability or nutrition. Journalist Bloom follows the trajectory of America's food from gathering to garbage bin in this compelling and finely reported study, examining why roughly half of our harvest ends up in landfills or rots in the field. He accounts for every source of food waste, from how it is picked, purchased, and tossed in fear of being past inscrutable "best by" dates. Bloom's most interesting point is psychological: we have trained ourselves to regard food as a symbol of American plenty that should be available at all seasons and times, and in dizzying quantities. "Current rates of waste and population growth can't coexist much longer," he warns and makes smart suggestions on becoming individually and collectively more food conscious "to keep our Earth and its inhabitants physically and morally healthy." (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews

An eye-opening account of what used to be considered a sin—the willful waste of perfectly edible food.

That waste, writes journalist Bloom, is enough to fill the 90,000-seat Rose Bowl stadium each day—by a conservative estimate, half a pound of food per American per day. "How we reached the point where most people waste more than their body weight...each year in food is a complicated tale," he writes, and so it is. Food waste is a matter of individual decisions. We determine when and what to buy, stocking too-large refrigerators and too-capacious pantries with oversized containers of food that cannot possibly be consumed before they go bad. By Bloom's calculation, anywhere from a quarter to half of the food we buy is tossed away, costing hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year. Yet many of the decisions that result in that waste are beyond our control, made somewhere between farm and fork by corporate powers that, it would appear, consider waste a species of planned obsolescence. The environmental results alone are appalling, writes the author. It takes 15 tons of water to produce a kilogram of red meat, to say nothing of the energy, land and carbon emissions produced by large-scale agriculture. Bloom is full of condemnation without being unduly scolding, though he seems dour and dire at times: "Limiting waste requires patience, effort, and food knowledge," he writes. "While these used to be common American traits, that is less true today." Completely eliminating food waste is an unlikely scenario, he writes, but reducing it is not—it can be taught, just as the present generations have been taught, quite successfully, to recycle.

Refreshingly, Bloom offers solutions as well as jeremiads, and not a minute too soon—an urgent, necessary book.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738215280
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 8/30/2011
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,358,912
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Bloom is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe. He lives with his wife and son in Durham, North Carolina. Visit: WastedFood.com

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi

1 Waste from Farm to Fork 1

2 Does Food Waste Really Matter? Why You Should Care 13

3 The Disgrace of Plenty: The Coexistence of Hunger and Food Waste 41

4 A Culture of Waste: Our Fall from Thrift and Our Imminent Return 59

5 American Farms: Growing Waste, Selling Perfection 91

6 Waste on the Menu 117

7 A Cold Case of Waste 147

8 Home Is Where the Waste Is 183

9 The Obstacles and Art of Food Recovery 215

10 From Traylessness to Demand Tracking:Ideas and Innovations to Reduce Food Waste 239

11 Great, Britain! A Kingdom United in Hating Waste 263

12 If I Were the King of the Forest: Big Changes 29

Acknowledgments 309

Notes 313

Resources 337

Appendix A How to Avoid Waste and Save Money 343

Appendix B Produce Storage Guide 349

Index 351

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

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    I hear a train

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