What Tom Vanderbilt did for traffic and Brian Wansink did for mindless eating, Jonathan Bloom does for food waste. The topic couldn't be timelier: As more people are going hungry while simultaneously more people are morbidly obese, American Wasteland sheds light on the history, culture, and mindset of waste while exploring the parallel eco-friendly and sustainable-food movements. As the era of unprecedented prosperity comes to an end, it's time to reexamine our culture of excess.
Working at both a local grocery store and a major fast food chain and volunteering with a food recovery group, Bloom also interviews experts - from Brian Wansink to Alice Waters to Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen and digs up not only why and how we waste, but, more importantly, what we can do to change our ways.
Bloom... vividly illustrates how waste is built into our whole way of eating, from farm to table to trashcan. As he traces the problem of waste into grocery stores, buffet restaurants, school lunchrooms, and convenience stores, Bloom argues that waste was understandable (if not forgivable) during the rampant consumerism and excess that characterized the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Nowadays, however, as Americans increasingly seek to reduce their carbon footprint, to eat and shop locally, to return to a simpler, less consumption-centered way of life, it's time we all stopped to consider not just the food that goes into our mouths but the millions of tons that bypasses our plates entirely. And, as hunger in the United States continues to persist, finding better solutions for our leftovers is not just an economic or environmental issue, Bloom suggests. It's a powerfully moral one. (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).
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.
'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.'
Starred Review. 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.
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