In Response

After allowing a week to digest the comments on my Thanksgiving piece, I thought I’d respond to some of them.

First, I appreciated all of the input and was heartened to see the enthusiasm. Whether it takes a positive or negative tone, it’s great that people have so much to say about theillustration by Road Fun (via Creative Commons) issue of food waste. I don’t even mind an occasional “to hell with you” if it’s a reflection of one’s passion on the topic (not that I’d want to make it a regular occurrence).

In general, some wondered why I focused on individuals when I should be addressing food producers and the food industry. Industrial food waste is certainly a large target and I do talk about them on this blog. But my Well blog guest post was about what changes you can make to reduce food waste.

Here are a few specific responses, in numerical order:

21. On the stimulus package reference: I’m no economist (obviously), and my comment that the savings could help another stimulus package was meant to be kind of sarcastic, but it didn’t quite read that way. The point is: we can use our resources better.

31. On restaurant donations: True, food can be dangerous if not handled properly. That’s why restaurants that donate food take the proper steps to avoid such occurrences.

Thousands of restaurants donate their prepared but not served food. It takes about the same amount of effort as scraping that food into the trash and then taking it out the dumpster. Also, most food recovery volunteers are trained in food safety to ensure it stays fresh during the collection.

Plus, there’s no basis for fear of lawsuits. They are protected from liability by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act. And has any food pantry or food recipient ever actually sued a restaurant for donating food?

42. The idea that Americans go hungry while we waste food underlies basically everything I do. But thanks for the scolding.

On that topic: I was frustrated to read this particular commenter’s take that I came off as a scold. I hope you’ll agree that that’s not my approach. I try to admit my own shortcomings with food and suggest how we all can improve.

On sources: In the name of flow, I didn’t get bogged down in the sources. But on my blog, I try to be as transparent as possible. Hence, the lower range of the ‘quarter to half’ of all food is wasted comes from this USDA study citing 26 percent.

The Stockholm International Water Institute recently found that up to 30 percent of US food is squandered and it’s more like 50 percent in some countries. And Tim Jones, a former University of Arizona researcher, came up with a 40 to 50 percent range.

48. On worms: Fear not! Hygiene shouldn’t be a concern as long as you keep them in a well-made worm bin. I’ve seen them in action and plenty of people swear by them. Then again, you never know…

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