A Rose Bowl Full of Turkeys

I’m kind of a masochist. Mostly in an intellectual way though.

For example, right before partaking in the biggest American food holiday of the year, I embarked on reading Jonathan Bloom’s, “American Wasteland.” The book was sent to me by the publisher and sat on my bookshelf for awhile, but it’s really a fascinating read.

I’m not even all the way through it yet and it has already changed the way I look at the food in supermarkets, farmer’s markets, restaurants, and even my own fridge.

The book takes on the subject of food waste in America and starts with a startling visualization.

“Every day, America wastes enough food to fill the Rose Bowl. Yes – that Rose Bowl.”

In Mr. Bloom’s mind, the Rose Bowl tomorrow will look something like the above.


That’s a pretty sad site, even with cartoon turkeys.

The problem of food waste is a big one and one that I’ll probably write about more once I finish the book and wrap my head around some of Bloom’s solutions.

I wanted to post on it the day before Thanksgiving though to encourage everyone to do three things this Thanksgiving. I’m not saying that these three things will eliminate food waste, but it couldn’t hurt.

The Three Things I’m Focusing on This Thanksgiving:

Be Generous. I’m probably already on Mr. Bloom’s bad side with this one because he thinks that being generous might be part of the food waste problem. We always feel a need to over-feed our guests and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m 100% guilty of that.

But I think we can be generous in ways other than turkey-on-a-plate. We can be generous with our time, our money, and our love. I think all those things are important, and sometimes forgotten, in America these days. Find someone who needs a leg up and help them out if you can.

Be Thankful. The one thing that is very apparent to me as I read American Wasteland while watching the News (aka William and Kate wedding coverage) is that there are some people in this world that have A LOT more than me, but there are way more people that have less. I’m guessing since you clearly have an Internet connection and a computer, you’re probably in the same boat.

So try to take some time tomorrow (if not right now) and be thankful of everything that you have and the opportunities that are available to you.

Be Respectful. The amount of energy and resources that go into making food in this country is bordering on insane. That said, I’m not going to dive into global food politics. I do think it’s important that whatever food decisions you make (I, for one, like turkey), you be respectful of that food and the people that worked hard to get it to you. Try not to waste it. Save your leftovers and use them.

I firmly believe that if we think of each thing on the table with these three goals in mind, we can hopefully lower the food waste in this country and also have a wonderful holiday.

Be generous to others. Be thankful for all that you have. Be respectful to all those that helped you get where you are today.

Have a great holiday everyone. I’m taking a few days off from posting, but I’ll be back on Monday with some great new recipes for ya.

Rose Bowl photo by RicardoSEP.

9 comments on “A Rose Bowl Full of Turkeys

  1. I have academic-type friends who actually study food delivery systems and food politics and they alerted me earlier to the food waste issue. Once these ideas sink in, you won't look at food the same way anymore. My take on it is that in the same way that restaurants have shifted our ideas of what a "reasonable portion" is, I think that WalMart, Sam's Club, Costco, and other bulk stores have perverted our ideas about what constitutes a "good deal". Buying food that you will ultimately throw away (because it is more than any reasonable person could possibly consume before it goes bad), is NOT a good deal. Most of us, even the most dedicated foodie, is going to process all that food every single time.

    Some simple ways that I have implemented these changes are to buy the smallest portion of foods (including condiments) that will meet my needs. I puree and freeze those brown bananas to use in recipes later. Have you ever had homemade banana ice cream? Yowza! Plus, gives me an excuse to use that expensive food processor! I cooked my Halloween pumpkin and pureed it for my Thanksgiving pies. (I also had plenty of fresh pumpkin to give to friends.) I go "shopping" in my own freezer for dinner.

    Probably the most effective thing I did was to implement the "freezer rules". If you pull it out and you don't know what it is, you have to thaw it and eat it for dinner. If you have more than four of anything in your freezer, you have to thaw one and eat it for dinner. If you see that it has been there more than a year, you have to thaw it and have it for dinner. It's like playing Russian roulette with dinner! The challenge is not to go to the store to round out your meal. This is really good because I should be eating food I already own before I eat more. It has also cleared out my fridge. Less and less food gets pushed to the back to become a future science experiment.

    Planning, planning, planning. That is the key for stopping the waste! Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention.

    1. Whoa! Those challenges are intense. I'm not sure that I've ever let stuff sit that long in my freezer actually, but it's a really interesting idea.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Thanks Nick. You couldn't be more right. What can't be eaten at Thanksgiving makes delicious left-overs. What can't be used for left-overs should be composted, where appropriate. Enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with the smallest of a foot-print. Go green!

  3. Just randomly happened upon your blog. As it happens, I'm working on a MLS in Food Studies and Gastronomy at Boston University and am using Bloom's book for my current paper for my Food and the Visual Arts class. I'm examining Man vs. Food and its perpetuation of food waste in the United States. I've found Bloom's book to be invaluable for my argument.

    Looking forward to enjoying your blog.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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