In Response

After allowing a week to digest the comments on my Thanksgiving NYTimes.com 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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5 Comments

  1. Posted December 4, 2008 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Jon,
    Honestly, I have a hard time talking about this topic without being at least a little sarcastic, and in your writing you have a little bit of a sarcastic–yet humorous–style. It just seems that many people that shoot back at me when I’m talking about dealing with food waste, are coming from a particular ethical outlook based on capitalist ideals–the right to work for what you eat, the right to eat what you’ve worked for in any way you please, the right to distribute it to whomever in whichever way you please, the god-like standards on sanitation etc. I just can’t help but be a little sarcastic in my conversations, because part of it just seems ridiculous: that how you feel about food should be more important than folks getting the food that they need.

    Regarding #42, don’t let them get you down. Your style is unique and your writings a constitution of sorts for the freegan cause. Not that I figured you were failing in your resolve, but I thought I should give you a pat on the back anyway. Coming from a dumpster-diving world into a professional food-recovery world, it’s nice to see that there are others out there with that guerrilla recovery attitude.
    Peace and Love,
    Dan

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2 Trackbacks

  1. By Turkey trash « everydaytrash on December 4, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    [...] Turkey trash By everydaytrash A very friendly coworker brought me some sweet potato pie today.  Traveling with my dad and sister for Thanksgiving was fun, but I have to admit I missed all the traditional foods.  Especially the pie.  I was kind of surprised at first that she still had pie, a full week later.  But when I think about it, nearly every family I know makes huge meals for Thanksgiving and the leftovers are just as much a part of the ritual as the meal itself.  Jonathan Bloom over at Wasted Food wrote about this on nytimes.com before the holiday and today responded to some of the questions generated by readers. [...]

  2. By Turkey trash | 1800blogger on December 4, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    [...] A very friendly coworker brought me some sweet potato pie today.  Traveling with my dad and sister for Thanksgiving was fun, but I have to admit I missed all the traditional foods.  Especially the pie.  I was kind of surprised at first that she still had pie, a full week later.  But when I think about it, nearly every family I know makes huge meals for Thanksgiving and the leftovers are just as much a part of the ritual as the meal itself.  Jonathan Bloom over at Wasted Food wrote about this on nytimes.com before the holiday and today responded to some of the questions generated by readers. [...]

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