Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New in Paperback: American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half Its Food by Jonathan Bloom

Journalist and blogger Jonathan Bloom’s 2010 book American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half Its Food (Da Capo) is 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.

“Every day,” Bloom begins, “America wastes enough food to fill the Rose Bowl. Yes that Rose Bowl -- the 90,000-seat football stadium in Pasadena, California.” He goes on to tell us that of the nearly 600 billion pounds of food produced in the United States each year, between one quarter and one half is wasted.

And even though the figures in Bloom’s book are compelling and sometimes even shocking, there’s much more going on here than that. In some ways, American Wasteland is as much about the cultural shift that has taken place in America over the last generation or so, moving us to the place where every human in the country is, on average, responsible for five pounds of trash per day. Of that, Bloom tells us, about 12 per cent is food.

But as much as American Wasteland is, on occasion, horrifying reading, Bloom’s overall message is one of hope. He looks at the problems -- and the things that created them -- carefully and in-depth. But he also makes hard suggestions for what we, both as a culture and as individuals, can do to improve things. Here, for example, are Bloom’s hints on shopping strategically:
• Make a list and stick to it -- avoid buying things you don’t need because they’re on display.
• Shop for produce last -- it will lose freshness that compromises its shelf life while you shop.
• Eat before you shop--if you’re not hungry, you’ll fall victim to fewer impulse buys
• Avoid the temptation of the 2 for 1 deal -- if you need one, buy one.
• Beware of bulk/superstores -- do you really need a 3 pound tub of sour cream or just a pint?
• Be realistic about your eating habits -- how many nights do you plan to eat home during the following week, plan for it.

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Anonymous Shelley said...

Another reason to avoid superstores is that they are union-busters, reducing the chance of any of us to make a living wage.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 8:22:00 AM PDT  

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