New books and headlines focus on food waste and food shortages

From   |  January 14, 2011
In Book Scoop, Coffee and Convo, Frugal Food & Facts, News Notes

How much food would you say you waste on a monthly basis? Yearly? A new book is highlighting this issue -- one I’m both passionate about and guilty of.

In the book by Jonathan Bloom, “American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food” (Da Capo Press), he estimates that as much as a quarter of the food we bring into our homes is wasted. So a family of four that spends $175 a week on groceries loses more than $40 each week and $2,275 a year in waste alone.

Bloom used the same study that we wrote about in our cookbook Cheap. Fast. Good! -- the Garbage Project at the University of Arizona. This study has been going on since 1973 and tries to determine what foods Americans discard and why.

An article in the New York Times says that by most estimates, a quarter to half of all food produced in the United States goes uneaten — left in fields, spoiled in transport, thrown out at the grocery store, scraped from plates into the garbage or forgotten until it spoils.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of wasting that much food really bothers me. Especially when current headlines are predicting another food crisis -- shortages and rising food costs in poorer countries.

One of my favorite ways to cook is to open the fridge and make a soup or stir-fry from all of the last bits of veggies and meat I find there. Half an onion, frozen corn, dried barley, some limp celery and the last of the bagged baby carrots suddenly become more than discards when you add a bit of olive oil, spices and canned chicken broth.

What are the foods most likely to get wasted at your house? How do you deal with this issue? We’d love some new ideas, so tell us what you think in the comments section following this post!

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