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.
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.
— Publisher’s Weekly
In one of the twenty-first century’s most appalling ironies, developed nations throw away massive amounts of food while people in remote lands starve. Journalist Bloom documents some 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. He finds food crops lying rotting in fields owing to intentional social policy, economic vagaries, and sheer ignorance. In restaurants, portion sizes have ballooned under the mantras “Bigger is better” and “Would you like to supersize that?” And many Americans allow food to decay on refrigerator shelves out of carelessness, lack of meal planning, and sheer ignorance. Bloom has found some hopeful signs that this trend may be waning. Many grocery stores and restaurants dispose of surplus edibles through food pantries and similar charitable outlets. Some socially conscious farmers are trying to revive the ancient practice of allowing the poor to glean.
— Booklist
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.
— BookBrowse
Jonathan Bloom describes himself as an “accomplished eater and fledgling composter.” He could also fairly describe himself as a fanatic against food waste. His book “American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)” demonstrates that fanaticism within every chapter. The result demonstrates that fanaticism well channeled can serve as a virtue.
— The Seattle Times