The Trash Blog

American Wasteland

Jonathan Bloom is a finisher. He believes that in most every household there is a finisher – someone who gobbles down leftovers so as not to let them go to waste. I think in our ‘car household’ I am the finisher. What can I say? Steel stomach.

We met Jonathan at a quiet spot in Durham, North Carolina, shared coffee, and talked food waste. His book, American Wasteland, looks at food waste in, well,  America.  I’ve written about some of the stats on food waste before, but I still am shocked every time I read that more than 40% of food produced for human consumption in America goes to waste. Jonathan’s blog is a great resource for those looking to learn about the issue, and for those looking to take action in their community, or even in their own fridge.

Jonathan tells us how it is; Phil craves his coffee.

Jonathan tells us how it is; Phil craves his coffee.

Though his book looks at all the places along the ‘human food chain’ that food is wasted (left to rot on crop fields, in dumpsters outside grocery stores and restaurants, and in household fridges) Jonathan is most interested in looking at the household level these days. If Phil and I weren’t already odd enough to be road tripping to look at garbage, I would think Jonathan was mildly fanatic as he detailed saving juice from his spiky leftover pineapple rinds. What can I say? The man is serious.

I realize we have a special connection to this book as Mario Batalli is Phil's distant cousin.  I love being Italian by association.

I realize we have a special connection to this book as Mario Batali is Phil’s distant cousin. I love being Italian by association.

While writing a book about food waste is what he’s known for, what caught me most about him is his insistence on the importance of small actions. Before meeting, I read an article about him picking up unsold food from the Durham farmer’s market to bring to organizations in town that can give it out. What the heck?! – this man has written an award winning book and he’s filling his time picking up leftover tomatoes for a food bank? He should be on the Hill lobbying for policy change or something. But I think he is more interested in people, and daily life. He thinks your fridge makes a difference.

Jonathan saving some potatoes, saving the day. Photo credit: Grant Baldwin

Jonathan saving some potatoes, saving the day. Photo credit: Grant Baldwin

It seems that of all the waste going to landfills, food waste is the low hanging fruit – the easiest place to start reducing our trash volume and see big results. With organic materials accounting for the largest portion of municipal solid waste (a full 56% by some counts), reducing food waste seems to be a great and easy place to start reducing.

On his blog he encourages readers to share tips on how to reduce food waste in daily life. The main tip he shared with us was pretty simple – plan your meals and grocery list before going into the store. And maybe shop more frequently for less food.

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This entry was written by Margaret and published on August 29, 2013 at 1:11 pm. It’s filed under Agriculture, Compost, Food Waste, Organics, Reduce and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “American Wasteland

  1. Uncle Chris on said:

    “He should be on the Hill lobbying for policy change or something.”

    lol. . . bet you didn’t believe I would read that sentence, eh?

    I suspect you were indulging in some of your famous humor here. However, I never let a chance go by to mention how inappropriate it is to bring government into most matters.

    Mr. Bloom is probably doing exactly what he should be doing, helping his community, setting an example, and abiding by his own principles all without burdening taxpayers.

    Mr. Bloom reflects how local institutions should always mediate between us and government. The more such institutions disappear, the more government may, and often does, rule our lives.

  2. It would be interesting to know how much of the 40% comes from households vs resturaunts, grocers, etc.

    By the way, that Orange travel cup looks familiar.

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