Synopses & Reviews
What Tom Vanderbilt did for traffic and Brian Wansink did for mindless eating, Jonathan Bloom does for food waste. The topic couldnt be timelier: As more people are going hungry while simultaneously more people are morbidly obese, American Wasteland
sheds light on the history, culture, and mindset of waste while exploring the parallel eco-friendly and sustainable-food movements. As the era of unprecedented prosperity comes to an end, its time to reexamine our culture of excess.
Working at both a local grocery store and a major fast food chain and volunteering with a food recovery group, Bloom also interviews expertsfrom Brian Wansink to Alice Waters to Nobel Prizewinning economist Amartya Senand digs up not only why and how we waste, but, more importantly, what we can do to change our ways.
"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. Journalist Bloom follows the trajectory of America's food from gathering to garbage bin in this compelling and finely reported study, examining why roughly half of our harvest ends up in landfills or rots in the field. He accounts for every source of food waste, from how it is picked, purchased, and tossed in fear of being past inscrutable 'best by' dates. Bloom's most interesting point is psychological: we have trained ourselves to regard food as a symbol of American plenty that should be available at all seasons and times, and in dizzying quantities. 'Current rates of waste and population growth can't coexist much longer,' he warns and makes smart suggestions on becoming individually and collectively more food conscious 'to keep our Earth and its inhabitants physically and morally healthy.' (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Kirkus Reviews (starred review), 8/15/10
“An eye-opening account of what used to be considered a sin—the willful waste of perfectly edible food…Bloom is full of condemnation without being unduly scolding…Refreshingly, Bloom offers solutions as well as jeremiads, and not a minute too soon—an urgent, necessary book.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review), 8/15/10
“An eye-opening account of what used to be considered a sin—the willful waste of perfectly edible food…Bloom is full of condemnation without being unduly scolding…Refreshingly, Bloom offers solutions as well as jeremiads, and not a minute too soon—an urgent, necessary book.”Booklist, 10/1/10“Journalist Bloom documents 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.” Publishers Weekly, 9/27 “Journalist Bloom follows the trajectory of America’s food from gathering to garbage bin in this compelling and finely reported study, examining why roughly half of our harvest ends up in landfills or rots in the field…Bloom’s most interesting point is psychological: we have trained ourselves to regard food as a symbol of American plenty that should be available at all seasons and times, and in dizzying quantities…[He] makes smart suggestions on becoming individually and collectively more food conscious.”
Huffington Post, 11/9/10
“Timely, terrific new book.”
Tucson Citizen, 11/23/10
“This book could change your life.”TheAtlantic.com“Rather than being yet another industrial food system downer of a book, this is a good read that somehow inspires rather than defeats…Bloom’s first-person reportage draws you in and will have you promising to always bring Tupperware from home when you go out to eat.”
TheDailyGreen.com, “Bloom gives us the trash stats, but he also helps come up with everyday solutions you can put into action today.” VegNews, February 2011“An eye-opening read.”
Choice, April 2011
“Bloom’s book is worth consideration, not only because of his focus on the American food waste problem, but also because of his evident desire to do something about it. Recommended.”
Gastronomica, Fall 2011
“With a journalist’s attention to research and observation, and a do-gooder’s sense of urgency, he tackles [food waste] from different perspectives, examining links along our national food chain, including farms, supermarkets, restaurants, and individual kitchens.”SergeTheConcierge.com, 8/23/11“Worth the investment both for your wallet and for the planet.” January Magazine, January 2011 “One of those non-fiction works that will alter lives and probably end up being made into a film one day. Winner of the IACP Cookbook Award (Food Matters category), it’s an important book that has the power to make a difference.”
Find Me Frugal (blog), 9/30/11 “Fascinating.”
The Traffic and Affluenza of food waste: an eye-opening account of our culture of excess and wasteand what we can do to change it
Grocery prices and the forsaken foods at the back of your fridge seem to increase weekly. After reading American Wasteland, you will never look at your shopping list, refrigerator, plate, or wallet the same way again. Jonathan Bloom wades into the garbage heap to unearth what our squandered food says about us, why it matters, and how you can make a difference starting in your own kitchen—reducing waste and saving money. Interviews with experts such as chef Alice Waters and food psychologist Brian Wansink, among others, uncover not only how and why we waste, but, most importantly, what we can do about it.
About the Author
Jonathan Bloom is a freelance journalist and food waste expert who writes the blog Wasted Food. An accomplished eater and fledgling composter, he has covered both serious and quirky topics related to food and the environment. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek, and Variety, among others. A Boston native, he lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his family, and many, many containers for leftovers.