Jan 25, 2018 in Narrative

book American Wasteland

Food wastage is a common phenomenon in the United States. In the book American Wasteland, Jonathan Bloom explores the economic, as well as environmental, impacts of food wastage. In an extensive way, Bloom shows how much unused food is thrown away and what reasons are behind the large production of never eaten food, discovering the supply chain from field to the fridge in details. Indeed, the book is intriguing and shocking, especially to people, who never allow food wastage. The concepts in the book come as a warning to the psychological point of view, as most people take it for granted that food is always available. It acts as a wakeup call to reality from the general insensitiveness to food as a resource. Therefore, Bloom uses this riveting book to boost individual and collective responsibility in becoming more food conscious.

As a big nation with high population, America tries to produce enough food in order to ensure food security of its citizens. The United States produces nearly 590 billion pounds of food annually. This amount is enough to feed the country sufficiently in that same year. However, it is shocking that approximately 160 billion pounds of food go to waste annually, because of people’s insensitivity. The figures come from the striking fact that nearly all disposed food is edible at the disposal time. The figures show the significance of individual contribution to the overall wastage. Indeed, on average, an individual discards edible food of approximately 197 pounds annually. What is worrying is the notable increase in the food disposal over the years.

The Industrial Revolution and change in the lifestyle of the Americans over the past years have influenced food conservation and consciousness negatively. People migration away from the rural to urban areas is a substantial change in their lifestyle. Life in a rural area involves farming and production of one’s own food. The urban movement, therefore, drew people from the agricultural life into a life of buying and eating final products. Today, many people are not conscious of the food value and the efforts that are made during the process of its production. Secondly, the hustle and bustle of life barely gives time for cooking and having meals at home. Eating out means that any food left in the house for some time spoils every day. Though the technology enables food storage, most people are quick to consider stored food bad, just according to the smell of the nose, which can often deceive. The increase in literacy and health awareness have also made many people too sensitive to food spoilage, because of the fact that it can be more pathogenic and cause diseases. The oversensitivity, therefore, means that an individual finds it more justifiable to throw food away. In contrast to increased food spoilage and food wastage, people should have become more conscious of a possibility when the supplier of food can become unreliable; hence, this will increase food preservation.

The unavoidable food loss in the chain from food production to food consumption is understandable. Number of circumstances help to distinguish and define the responsibility of individuals in reducing food wastage; for example, natural food catastrophes, like harsh weather, disease outbreaks, or insect invasion. In other instances, some foodstuffs, such as banana, spoil easily after ripening, hence, become inedible. Other foods contain unusable parts, like peels, covers, bones, shells that are usually discarded because of inedibility. All the mentioned scenarios are a natural loss of food but not wastage. Effort to reduce unforeseen calamities in the production of food is welcome. This underscores the relevance of modern scientific researches and support to providing alternative plants that are more resistant and more stable to changing weathers. Introducing innovation in converting most parts of products that would have otherwise gone to waste will also increase the overall rate of products utilization.

People’s lifestyle and mindset, as indicated earlier, are the contributory factors for the food wastage. Many foodstuffs, fit for consumption, go to waste in most homes, hotels, and groceries across the country today. This wastage stems from personal decisions of people, from the farmer to the final consumer, basing on their ethics (32). Notably, food will spoil if left for a long time, as spoilage is possible even in refrigerated food. Therefore, appliances, such as fridges, never should become dumping places. It is necessary to eat up all of the stored food instead of buying excessive amount of food and throwing it away latter. If eating out is unavoidable, it is reasonable to order clear and GMO free food. On the other hand, food stores or groceries should not be obsessed with ensuring fresh items in their shelves. Instead of discarding foodstuff from shelves to create space for fresh items, groceries can instead reduce the prices of edible though not very fresh items. This concept goes hand in hand with the psychological change that stayed food may be perfectly healthy and nutritious for consumption.

The consequences of food wastage may not be easily noticeable, yet they play a crucial role in the environmental and economic influence. Most food types also go bad easily. For example, if a person eats half a banana and leaves it behind until evening, the banana spoils, and the person has to dispose it. The act of disposing of wasted food is particularly common, as the litter is common in most streets. This means that individuals have less time and pay less attention to perceive the effects of disposing food, such as foul smell. Rooting foodstuffs contribute considerable greenhouse gases, which pollutes the environment. Since, individuals buy foodstuffs, food wastage amounts to wasteful expenditure. Bloom explains (25) that the money spent on food, which end up in litterbin, would better be in a bank account. The trend of food insensitivity will cause imbalance in the future. As the population increases, the ratio of resources and food per person diminishes, leading to harmful levels, as Bloom warns.

In conclusion, people should learn to avoid food wastage, since wastage has different negative effects. Food wastage is an expensive habit that has environmental effects. Therefore, it is essential that people learn to avoid throwing food. Foods in the fridges should be taken before they go rancid instead of going for eat out. It is also crucial to buy enough food, but not excess food left behind later. Stores that sell foodstuffs should not be too customer oriented to concentrate solely on fresh products. They should find means of reducing wastage of foodstuffs. These measures coupled with personal sensitiveness on the matter will eventually transform the nation into a non-food-wasting one.


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