October 13, 2011

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Journalist Jonathan Bloom will give the talk, "The Food Not Eaten," Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building at Bucknell University.

Bloom is the author of American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half its Food (and What We Can Do about it), which chronicles how Americans waste food from farm to fork and examines the impact of this squandering.

The book offers suggestions on how individuals and the nation can trim food waste.

Bloom, who calls himself "An accomplished eater and mediocre composter," has covered both serious and quirky topics related to food and the environment. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and Newsweek among others.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Office of the President, the Berelson Center for Jewish Life, the Economics Department, and the Office of Civic Engagement.

Reasons to stop wasting food
Bloom says that Americans waste enough food every day to fill the Rose Bowl. He lists numerous reasons to stop, including the financial cost of dumping more than 100 billion pounds of food at $96 billion in 1997 dollars.

"Considering inflation, rising food prices and the fact that the amount of waste has grown with our population, that number is probably more like $150 billion now. In these lean times, the savings gleaned from reducing food waste could help pay for another stimulus package," he said.

Bloom also notes the environmental cost of dumping food in landfills. "Rotting food creates methane, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times as potent a heat-trapper as carbon dioxide. Since landfills are America's largest human-related source of methane emissions, cutting waste can have a measurable impact on the environment.

"Finally, there is an ethical price to be paid for teaching our children that food is disposable, as successive generations of Americans have done," said Bloom. "Thrift used to be a common American trait but has become increasingly rare the further we get from World War II and Depression-era scrimping. Because today's youth are disconnected from how food is grown, processed and prepared, it is easier for them to squander it. They have been desensitized to waste by the constant sight of food left behind in restaurants, schools and homes."

Bloom suggests ways to trim food waste by "planning meals before shopping, taking stock of what you already have; making a detailed grocery list and avoiding impulse buys; serving reasonable portions, knowing family or guests can always take seconds; saving and eating leftovers; and composting."

Yearlong initiative at Bucknell
Bloom's visit is part of a year-long initiative focused on food access and security. "Feeding Our Hearts, Expanding Our Vision" seeks to increase resources for local food programs that serve the needy as well as reducing food waste on campus.

The initiative was developed in response to a White House challenge issued to colleges and universities to create opportunities among people of different faith traditions and those with no religious affiliation as they work together on a common project for the public good.

Contact: Division of Communications

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