Monday, May 20, 2013

American Wasteland

I am not the most wasteful person on the planet, but I am not nearly as frugal or conscientious about using what I have as my parents are.  I venture to guess that is true for many people from my generation.  And my parents were probably a little more wasteful than their parents.  Sadly, our country is full of wastefulness, yet we still have millions of people who go hungry each and every day.

American Wasteland by Jonathan Bloom is a book I think everyone should read.  It is certainly eye-opening as Bloom looks at all the food we waste in our country.  From farmers leaving food in the field without harvesting it to consumers throwing away excess without ever preparing it, tons of food (literally) are thrown away every day.  

Recently we have been having a discussion in our household.  Farm girl that I am, I have continued to humor my mom by filling  up an old ice cream container with leftover table scraps that she can feed her cats.  My husband, who grew up in town, has never heard of something so disgusting and nearly gags every time that plastic bucket gets brought out.  However, disgusting or not, I would be the one winning kudos from Bloom.  Leftover food scraps often end up in landfills where they produce methane - which is responsible for global warming.  And these food scraps produce methane for no small amount of time, either- they can produce methane for twenty five years! 

As Bloom writes about the farmers who decide not to harvest certain crops because the cost of paying workers is greater than the amount of money they will make when these crops are sold, or the crops that are weeded out simply because they don't look perfect, there is little I can do to change those things.  However, I can change the way I buy food and the way I use it at my home, something Bloom also write about.

American Wasteland is full of research and statistics, as Bloom has done his homework on this topic. But, it is also an enjoyable read, full of vignettes to back up his points on the wastefulness we Americans seem to take for granted.

This is a book I'll be talking about for quite some time, and one I'll be recommending to everyone.  While I doubt I can eliminate waste entirely from my home, I do plan on continuing to give my table scraps to my mom's cats, and I certainly plan to inventory what we have in our refrigerator before shopping as well as making up a menu so I know what it is I am shopping for.  

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