I was brought up in a household in which we did not throw away or waste food. It was such an integral part of my upbringing that to this day it is a very important part of my daily life. Due to my sub-continent background, I had seen at a very young age and with my own eyes the very poorest of poor people. So, we were never told the clichéd and in-effective story of starving kids in China. We (my brothers and I) were taught to be sympathetic/empathetic and to think of those that didn’t have nourishment to put in their bellies. A by-product of this was to establish a sense of gratefulness and thankfulness for all that we had and to not take anything for granted. We were also taught that throwing away food that my Mother had taken the time, effort, and love into preparing was extremely disrespectful and hurtful. We were taught the economic lesson that the food we eat is bought by hard earned money and that throwing away food is like throwing money in the garbage.
These are very important lessons, concepts, and mind-sets that should be imparted to children at a young age. It is unfortunate that most people (especially in Western societies) do not receive this kind of “schooling”. We live in a society of spoiled brats with an unbelievable amount of choice and over-abundance when it comes to food and yet most of it goes into the garbage. A society in which everything is disposable and taken for granted. Just more traits of a culture/psyche that will come back to haunt us and enable our down-fall and implosion from within.
This is where Jonathan Bloom’s fantastic book entitled “American Wasteland” comes in as my pick for “What I’m into this week”…except that I’m not just into it for a week. Mr. Bloom explores the rampant and repugnant epidemic of food waste in the United States from the top to the bottom. The culling of perfectly edible and nourishing produce at the farm. The grocery store dumpsters full of prepared and unprepared foods and doused with bleach so that no one can consume it even though it has been thrown away. The mounds of table waste from restaurants and dining rooms across the country. He discusses the ridiculous legalities behind re-routing this food destined for land fills and instead into the mouths of hungry people. He also explores alternatives, options, and programs to curb this disgusting practice. He even tells you how food should be arranged and stored in your refrigerator for optimal freshness and usage. His writing style is a great combination of serious and humorous. It’s a really great read and I highly recommend it to anyone with a conscience or anyone who’d like to start fostering one.