Now that I’m living down the road from the family farm, asked my mom in a phone call today, could I please do something about the fruit trees? Prune them, care for them, harvest them? Clear the weeds away from the overgrown lingonberries and blueberries? And line up some kind of charity for the unused fruit, since that’s not the tenants’ job?
I hadn’t realized that these trees and bushes had been neglected. Which got me thinking about food waste.
“Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption,” says journalist Jonathan Bloom. “That comes at an annual cost of more than $100 billion. At the same time, food prices and the number of Americans without enough to eat continues to rise.”
Bloom’s website and blog, www.wastedfood.com, and his new book, American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half its Food (and What We Can Do About It) detail the problem and lift up emerging solutions. Like the dining hall trays temporarily or permanently banished by colleges like Luther and Wartburg. Like links to fact sheets that help stores and restaurants give away food safely. And lists of food recovery groups that are trying to connect wasted abundance with real need. (How are you doing on that Lenten meal of scavenged or recovered food that I suggested in my last post?)
My family’s fruit trees should be feeding more than the birds. Tending them, making pies and jam, and sharing their harvest are small steps away from our culture’s “take-make-waste” paradigm (as Annie Leonard of Story of Stuff calls it). But I’m always looking for new ways to do that. So sure, mom. I’m on it! Recovery, here I come.
Anne Basye, Sustaining Simplicity: A Journal