American Wasteland by Jonathan Bloom

american wasteland

I have always disliked wasting food.  That is a value instilled in me early on by my parents who hate waste of any kind.  This book was just over 300 pages long and all about food waste, so with hindsight I think it may be a good example of preaching to the converted.  This is specifically about food waste in the US, where I now live.  As a Brit, I am regularly astounded at the portion size in restaurants here, and disappointed with how long the “fresh” produce from supermarkets lasts in my fridge at home.  I suggested this book for the Las Vegas Non-Fiction Book Group to read and discuss.

Bloom makes the bold statement that America throws away half of its food.  He then goes on to explain each stage in the food production and retail process and tell us about how waste is generated at each stage.  He tells us of waste generation in farms, supermarkets, homes and restaurants.  He tells us why we should care about it, and gives examples of how some organisations are trying to do something useful with it all.  There is even a chapter on how Great Britain is dealing with its food waste.

The book explains a little of how the US has got to this state, and has some excellent and sensible suggestions to reduce food waste, but in my opinion, the economics of the food industry would have to change before any of Bloom’s suggestions could possibly happen.  His suggestions for government intervention will not happen for a while simply because they have bigger problems right now, and while food continues to be so cheap, it will probably continue to be thrown away in large quantities until they run out of landfill space.  It does make me sad, but I would add one more suggestion to Bloom’s list: get a dog, you will never throw food away again.

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