tv Book TV CSPAN February 14, 2011 7:00am-8:00am EST
just my own standards but with a publisher and illegal betting. >> thank you very much for your time. >> jonathan bloom reports that close to half the food produced in the united states goes to waste. according to the author each american discards approximately 197 pounds of food per year. even while many face rising grocery costs and shortages are being reported at food banks across the country. jonathan bloom discusses his book at regulator bookshop in durham, north carolina. the program is close to an hour. >> thank you. good evening. nice to see all the spaces out here and smiling faces at that, some familiar ones. so i wanted to give a brief thank you to everyone for getting canned goods are bringing canned goods tonight. and in case anyone missed that
memo, basically i just asked people to bring a canned good as the price of admission, but if someone wanted to bring more than that, the person who brings the most cans tonight will win a free book. so we're going to take care of that a little bit later. just to give a brief overview of tonight, i'm going to read a few passages from the book, jumping around here and there, and i'll kind of talk but. then we will take questions, and then we would do the book giveaway. so everyone should hopefully come up with some questions, get a good discussion going. i've been working on this topic so long it's really nice to get out there and hear some things of what people are thinking about the topic and actually have a back and forth. so i'm looking forward to that. so, i have been researching foodways for about five years, and at the very beginning in
particular people were really enthusiastic about the topic. and i would talk to people and they would say what are you researching, so i was a food waste. almost every time the response was really positive and it really seemed to resonate with people. most folks had a historic organic goat they wanted to share your a lot of people wanted to tell me about their mother or their grandmother. and if anyone has read the introduction i definitely talk about my mother and my grandmother and impact they have had. but that said, there was a conference where i had the chance to meet a guy named jack rosenthal who was a managing editor at the "new york times." and basically i told him that i'm researchiresearching wasted food and he said something like okay, yeah, that's a pretty interesting, but why should i care? what's the big deal? i bought this food and if i want
to throw an outcome isn't isn't that my business? to be perfectly honest i didn't have a great response. i was kind of dumbstruck. it was the first time that anyone had really provided any opposition when i talked about the topic. it's not like there are many people out there who are actually pro-foodways. [laughter] thank god. so anyway when jack said that to become it was really constructive criticism because i had to go back and really think about how to craft an argument and to do so in an intelligent way. i kind of wanted to tell him, and you know, just because come the recent foodways is wrong because it is. but that doesn't exactly fly. so why did was think about that. and if you see in the book, dedicate an entire chapter to answering that question, why food waste matters, why we should care. and a detailed economic,
environmental and ethical reasons why we should care. so for the first selection i want to read you a bit from the ethical arguments, and it's kind of me trying to figure this whole question out. it's called on ethics. when i began this research i knew it was wrong to waste food, i just couldn't tell you why. at least i couldn't make it coherent ethical argument against it. after researching the topic for a few years, i was confident the environmental consequences alone made it immoral to waste food. bringing an ethical case against waste without mentioning methane was a bit more difficult. i had a sense there was more to it than that but the number of americans who don't have enough to eat made it unethical to waste food. for example. but i wasn't quite sure how to express that idea. house to the argument be frank? to better understand all of the
facets of waste, moral implications i thought to seek others' views. without motive i contacted paul, director of the emory center for ethics at emory university. he grew up as a rabbi's son up by philadelphia. two of his three brothers fathered in their -- fall into father's footsteps choking him to quote i am the black sheep of the fallen. he said he wouldn't go so far as to class like wasting food is shameful, but that he did think it was morally wrong. histologic sounded downright, the reason it's wrong to waste food is because it leads to what the western religious world calls the hardening of the heart he said. to treat food cavalierly leads to a lack of appreciation of the importance of food, the fact that some go without it, the suffering of animals that the carnivores among us are willing
to tolerate to eat our food. it showed such a profound lack of appreciation for all that eating food represents. i spoke with tony, and author in a sociology professor at eastern university, st. louis, pennsylvania. he was also a pastor with a strong social justice and he advised bill clinton on spiritual matters during some of his harder times. given that skill set, i figured his insight would pass muster. he called her squatting of food a responsible but not surprising. when you talk about wasting food, you're talking about is a site that waste everything he said. it's almost as though food is just one symptom of the overall problem. and certainly many of the ethical implications surrounding food waste stamped on the idea that millions of americans and more than a billion people around the world don't get enough to be. some even starve. alice weathers is someone who appreciates and reduce food.
she not only started the influential berkeley, california, eatery, she's a founding foodie america's local singer should also establish the edible schoolyard program of a local middle school to better connect kids with their food. when asked waters for her take on a just a position of waste and hunger, she told me it's shameful to be wasteful around food when someone else's hungry. and i think we all know it. so, pretty heady stuff there. i promise that the entire but isn't quite that heavy. but when you start throwing around the word shame, it does get serious, and that was the case with some of these folks. so i thought from that beginning let's dial it down a bit and lighten things up a tiny bit. i wanted to talk a bit about the
kind of journalism that i did in this book, and it's a bit of a mixed bag. there's a fair amount of traditional journalism, interviewing sources and referring to statistics in primary sources. and then i did some emerging journalism as well, where i actually went out and worked some jobs in the food industry. and we'll touch on that a little bit later, but i also did some experiential journalism which is basically a fancy way of saying i went out to eat with a buddy of mine and got to write about it. so the next passage is along those lines, and this is from a buffet restaurant. all you can waste. plate size isn't a problem at golden corral. the national buffet chain has
reasonable sized crockery but except a variety of offerings. i visited golden corral nearly home to get a firsthand look of the array of items. upon entering the durham restaurant, looking across the massive parking lot from sam's club and target i expected a sizable number of options. i wasn't prepared for six kinds of fried chicken and seven varieties of seafood. the buffet stretch more than 100 feet from the greenhouse, the salad bar, to the growth house which it stakes in other proteins wrapped in bacon. to the chocolate fixation station, an inaccuracy at it as it satisfies all kinds of cravings, not just chocolate. i counted 81 hot bar choices, not including condiments. then there were 50 to salad bar items, 29 dessert choices. to be fair golden corral isn't alone in offering that white of a selection. predictably the abundance on display profits of your choices.
i tried to be disciplined but i found it difficult. in my first go round i filled my plate with fried catfish, turnip greens, broccoli, lasagna slice, baked carrots, corn bread stuffing, and a giant cheese biscuit. what was i thinking? well, in part i wasn't. i was just following my misguided instincts as i i have recently enjoyed the same foods that other restaurants. or maybe i just have less restraint than most. then again, my fellow researcher selected the stake we both knew was a bad idea. in addition to varieties, the sheer limitless of the food makes it seem less valuable. we are much more likely to waste food if we know that the steaming canister is on a buffet. if you have ordered it from a menu add an extra cost, you will
be more likely to eat the lovely indian bread. the all-you-can-eat policy at a pace almost dooms us to waste food. the one size fits all price incentivizes us to overeat so we feel we have gotten our money's worth. we take too much and can't eat it all. in addition the phase prompt a machine-gun method of food selection where we try a little of everything. burgers or chickens, art teriyaki? yes. as a result we often wind up with plenty on our plate that doesn't quite suit our fancy and related for the waiter to clear. and because most eateries require a clean plate for every trip to the buffet, our slaves are wiped clean with every return to the spread. in addition to the between rounds, plate waste, there's the final round squandering. since few buffets allow you to take anything home, food left when we call it quits is trashed. some all-you-can-eat sushi
restaurants, especially in hong kong and elsewhere in asia and charging penalty for leaving uneaten roles. a nigerian restaurant in london charges two pounds 50 for unfinished food which the restaurant then donates. but in america we deem it out right to waste. when i finally wave the white flag at the golden corral, i had a cookie, brown and some peach cobbler left on my plate. i was pretty sure what he said but i decide to ask my waiter if i could have a box to take the desert home. he said it could have a wanted to be the $5.39 per pound take a charge. he apologized as it otherwise customers take advantage of it and load up on their last plate. that makes perfect sense, but it results in so many items ending up in the trash. my waiter also suggested that i could covertly wrap my cookie in a napkin which, of course, i'd already planned to do. [laughter] wouldn't you?
if that doesn't work so well when there is candy yams or cobbler. giving the impending dumping of these foods, it's tempting to stick in a container to liberate food toward the end of the night, really tempting. so tempting that i may or may not rescue some cut fruit on my next and final visit. so buffet restaurant certainly among the worst offenders in the restaurant world, but that doesn't mean that sit down restaurants are not guilty of a fair amount of waste on their own. there's a fair amount of stuff that gets wasted in the kitchen, and in the plate waste from customers as well. so what i found in researching it and talking some chefs is if there's a flexibility in menus, then that's when chefs can really reduce the amount of waste that they do have.
but simply paying attention to the topic and really being cognizant of food waste can go a long way. and then even further, if chefs are restaurants are created and have a little outside the box thinking, they can do really well. so when i was out in berkeley, california, i met up with a guy named derek french who goes by the name the eco-chef. he has a number of initiatives in his restaurant where he tries to cut down on waste. and this next passage is basically me going to his restaurant and seen some of his strategies in action. and we start off -- well, the restaurant is located in albany california and we start with the beginnings, the early times in albany california.
albany, california, came into being in 1908 when a group of shotgun toting women help import garbage dump nearby berkeley. apparently the residents of berkeley view their northern neighbors on corporate unincorporated settlement as a dumping ground. before the incident the albany men met to discuss the option. the women still without vote took matters into their own hands. as horse-drawn garbage wagons approach without the intersection of san pablo and buchanan, the women confronted the drivers with two shotguns and .22 caliber rifle. the drivers, no fools, retreated back to berkeley with their garbage intel. emboldened by the women's defines the albany residents incorporated their settlement shortly thereafter. it's fitting then that less than a mile away chef aaron french attempt to prevent dumping in albany.
on in his case food from being thrown away at the sunnyside café. he has created a menu with an eye on avoiding the food waste, in most restaurants. for example, his breakfast and lunch café serves french toast, a bit thicker than usual. it's also round. and menu lists it as a wench french toast made with poppyseed bread. but upon questioning he is happy to divulge the customers are eating yesterday's hamburger buns. these are not generic white burger bolster their locally baked high quality bonds. french slices off a half-inch from the top and bottom to allow the bread to soak up the batter. and as i recall, it is delicious. when the french began his fantastic gas again is clear was using roles, customers complained about the french toast shape. i think our culture teaches a --
teaches us, i'm not even sure they knew what themselves why they're making a big deal out of this. people equate and his impressions with being good, something that is old as being bad. even know it's french toast, the fresher bread isn't as good. dryness is better especially when you're dipping it in batter in growing it. after some searching them french found a griddle presto place atop the breads flattening them. few customers really noticed. aside from a few poppy seeds, you'd never guess your orange french toast had been yesterday's hamburger bun, french said. although like french toast from texas toast. french and his investors racially opened a second location in a former garber exporting half of berkeley but humans humble about his eco-credentials. in terms of the waste at a restaurant i feel that most of
what i do in that regard is commonsense, or perhaps ancient wisdom, thinks that's just a century ago would dream not doing. french wrote in an e-mail. now we have the option to be wasteful and it takes a little extra work not to be. but i'm not reinventing the wheel, just looking back to the way things were. okay, so that is my friend aaron french in his french toast and i have to say as a writer working on a section about french toast with a chef named french would really tedious become active thought about asking if i could change his name or if he would change his name, but he was not interested. so such is the life of a writer. anyway, so i should save anyone is ever out in the bay area, east bay, you should stop by. if you do, order the french
toast. do me a favor and don't complain about the shape of it. actually, maybe you can, that's fine. so earlier on i talked about emerging journalism and working at a few places. so i worked at a farm, a small organic farm. i worked for a catering company, a small restaurant called mcdonald. and at a supermarket not too far from here. and i had a really fun time working at the supermarket as my wife can attest that she likes to say it was my happiest time. and there's something to that, but then again i like supermarkets. but the reason i did that was guess i was having a tough time getting any good info from supermarket executives, and this was kind of way to get behind the scenes. i definitely got behind the scenes. so this next section here is a story from my first day of work.
my first day of work in a supermarket produce departments begin at 8 a.m. 10 minutes into it i was throwing away food. orientation would come later i was told. first we had to call all let out a good product. that meant that another employee were to look to all the bad produce and move anything with a sell by date, that day or before. and manager handed me an apron, my john nametags would also have to wait and pointed me to the refrigerator while a packaged produce. yanking containers that cut fruit and washed lettuce from the cold case my could ignore the obvious. these items were perfectly edible. i collected sliced mushes, cut peppers and diced onions. i pulled seven varieties of bagged salads and veggie trays.
based on the container weights i tossed 24 pounds of packaged watermelon, pineapple and cantaloupe chunks that first morning. most items would last about another week and a veggie trays had a printed enjoyed by date of four days past the sell by date but the store went by the latter. while i worked on going to precut enwrapped produce my partner went to the other stuff. when he was done the tray of cold fruits and vegetables like he could've restocked the buffet. i headed to the backroom where gay, the the produce manager was christening some lettuce. soaking them to revive the leaves after their cross-country journey. i asked him what i should do with my cart full of attitude products, holding out a sliver of hope that it would be used by the deli department or salvaged and some other way. without looking up he said take it to the dumpster. later on my first day of work i
had the pleasure of watching an entry-level produce associate training video. it included this passage. if you have or have a question about whether a product should be cold, remove and discuss it with your manager. whenever asked my manager about an item he would introduce a toss it. in other words, guilty until proven innocent. by my fourth week at the supermarket i was in closer to finding answers as to why the grocery industry thinks so fine with food waste. everyday on the job i threw out some pretty nice stuff. this is especially disheartening considering that what reached our store was the cream of the crop. items that were not the right size, shape or color had already been weeded out whether by nature or by conditioning, consumers have come to expect food like crazy around. where ever you live across our vast country, a store where you shop will have them. and lets you live in or near california the grapes will most
likely traveled a long way advancing too many hurdles, possibly from as far away as chile. some smaller chains and independent grocers are more resourceful with her produce, but they are the exception these days. grouse, a six market chain in maryland is one of those exceptions. when donatella produce manager said the store strives to do with as little as possible, she many. the stuff that we garbage is. but whatever can be used get used. if there's something with a bad spot, we will cut it up and use the parts we can. as we talked taylor opened up baby carrots that are just reach their sell by date. she'd emptied a total of 272-ounce packages into a large clear bag. later her employees would incorporate perfectly good carrots into their store made veggie trays. so there's an example of a
stored really being resourceful with what they have, and that is passing. they made a lot of their own products. it would make snack trays and veggie trays and actually filled the salad bar with the letters straight from backs at a sell by date of that day on it because why wouldn't you? it's still perfectly good that so many stores don't do that because they don't have a use for it or they don't feel like bothering, or some other reason. anyway, one little anecdote that i always enjoy telling about my time in the supermarket was pretty close to when i started. i was working in the produce department and a ran into a college buddy of mine, and come to find that he had just moved to chapel hill. you starting a ph.d program in genetics. and i'm floating the bananas onto the display. so that was a bit of an awkward moment. [laughter] that was the one time where i
broke cover and i told him what i was up to. but with everyone else i definitely played it close to the best and didn't tell people what i was up to. and i worked hard, and my first month evaluation was fairly positive. [laughter] >> i think i put it up on the fridge. anyway, supermarkets, check them out. we've all had some exposure to food waste. this book certainly gets into some topics and areas that are familiar to people. supermarkets, restaurants, our kitchens, our homes. i tried to add some things to the book that would be novel and new, and to get people thinking about how broad a topic is and about some of the more radical ways that people go about trying to say food and reduce waste. so this next little section i
think fits that description of a novel. i doubt many of you are eating leftovers off other's plates in cafeterias. if that's true -- okay, no doubt there is doing it. if you live in portland and went to reed college you might be doing that. so there's this thing called scrounging and it's quite an accepted practice at reed college, been going on since the '60s. and essentially that's what it is is students who scrounge or they decide to not get a meal plan, and they're going to eat off of the leftovers of their fellow students. so when i heard about this topic, it was a question of when, not if i would go to this. and, of course, when in rome, you have to take part. here's this last section here is from my time scrounging.
after about 10 minutes of scrounging, it feels completely normal. it's like asking a family member are you going to finish that? only with a family of say, 1500. i tried to wade in slowly, taking bites when nobody else had. yet matched by others examples in my rumbling stomach, my innovation state and they begin eating like a veteran scrounger. i joined the scrounge for lunch and dinner on yet another sunny portland day in september 2008. my lunch look like this, one bite of quesadilla, to cherry tomatoes from a ranch dressing around in salad, for cucumber slices, numerous bites of pizza crust, and one near whole slice. letters from a different south, have a banana and the filling from an asian chicken wrap. on the whole it was a much more complete lunch than i would
normally eat. it's true. and i certainly enjoyed the variety. my compliments to the chef and the voters who chose and bought my meal. there's a reason why the scrounge tables are located on the path to the tray return. some paying customers to drop it off to the scrounging cables. i the times scroungers politely ask if they can have a dinner remains of an approaching student. when an item arrives, the modus operandi take a bite and pass it along. and everyone has had their fill, the plague is usually pushed to the middle. scroungers will go back if the donation is slow. and after items languish for 20 or 30 minutes, one of the scottish usually takes it upon him or herself to bring into the dish return. believe it or not even the scrounge table has plates. i was talking to a junior from los angeles who was catching up on some econ reading while scrounge. someone dropped off an apple chewed on all sides.
i mentioned that surely no one would be eating what was a glorified apple corps. he said give it time. it will get eaten. within a few minutes of e-mails giunta started working on it. scrounging tends to be a bit of a grazing process as it can take a little while to fill up. in the break between plates, i read through the principles of the scrounge which were handwritten on a massive hanging boehner. this was an informal version of the scrounge commandments that are published annually in the student paper. they can such as thou shalt not covet the trays of those who have not yet eaten helps maintain the tradition from year to year. a rumble of excitement interrupted my reading. some have dropped off a burger with just too cartoonish perfectly by dismissing. few items great as much of simon as anything with protein or fat. that means the meat, french
fries and pieces of pizza are more than just crust are quite popular. here comes a tray of fries one scrounger announced that four of five students dove in. for the most part students sharing was impressive. occasionally though the scrounger spanners faded and in the face of a particularly desirable item, or if ebony particularly made meal. at its core as core it's a free for all for free food, and editor of the school newspaper said. so, scrounging. if you're ever in portland, i definitely recommend it. ..
>> that exist such as replating which is the idea that if you have leftovers from a restaurant, you're going to bring them home. instead, you leave them out for someone to, hopefully, claim them. and that's brought a lot of controversy because a lot of people say, well, that's actually just a public health menace. anyway, there are many ideas out there on how to repurpose food, those are some of the odder ones which i tend to be drawn to. the book is filled with practical solutions on how people can cut down on waste in their own life. so with that, i would like to transition into some questions, and we'll do questions for a little bit, and then we will announce the big book winner.
[laughter] okay. so, um, anyone want to talk about anything? yes. >> any plans for a documentary? pbs, michael moore? [laughter] >> i tibet that question a lot, actually, you know, will there be a documentary? i am a journalist, i'm a print journalist. i'm willing to think about that, but as far as i know, there isn't anything in the works. well, with me. there's a great film out there called "dive" which is about dumpster diving. and that's by a guy named jeremy seifert. and i would definitely recommend checking that out. dumpster diving is another of those extreme ideas on how to reduce waste where people just eat off what they get out of the dumpster. yes. >> interesting, you said the scroungers end up throwing away food, too, because in "dive"
they talk about how we waste so much food that even when you're taking waste, you get choosy. that's not good enough. but did you meet anyone along the way that talked about the amount of energy that we put into food and the amount of food waste that we produce in terms of like, you know, energy independence, reducing dependence on foreign oil and national security? do you ever get anyone that goes into those kinds of realms? >> yeah. that's a great question. before i answer, i guess, chris, you've watched the video i've loaned you. one of the benefits of doing a local book reading. anyway, i loaned chris a copy of "dive." there's a e tremendous amount of energy embedded in the food we waste, and i believe i mentioned the environmental reasons why it matters, and that's really the main environmental reason. so there are a couple estimates on how much energy that represents. the published estimate is that
2% of all u.s. energy consumption goes into food that we then throw out, but that is really conservative. the it's based on an old estimate for how much we waste. so i'd put it at 5%. and when you think about all the oil that represents, it's pretty crazy. the statistic that someone gave to me to help visualize it is we think about the gulf oil spill. well, each year 70 times more oil goes into growing the food that we throw out. so there's some, some pretty grim food for thought. yes, in the back. >> did you find out anything about the, the toxic environmental hazard of the food being in the landfills, having all this organic matter -- huh? >> yeah. >> [inaudible] >> no, no, i kid not talk about that, and that's great because that's the other main environmental factor in food waste is the methane that comes
from landfills. and, basically, when we send food to landfills, it decomposes anaerobically, and that's why the methane which is a greenhouse gas that's more than 20 times as potent a heat trapper than co2 which is another way of saying food waste is climate change. so that's the main reason. also leeching is another concern, stuff that could trickle down through the landfill, and if it's not sealed quite right, or it'll get into the groundwater, so that's a concern. yes. >> in terms of producing change on the issue and bringing down the percentage of wasted food, it seems like there are a lot of different levels that could happen, changing individual behavior, groups such as the scroungers, you know, even businesses that you mentioned internationally that have policies where you're paying for leaving food on your plate, or even up to the level of public policy. so is there a particular level
that you think has the most hope for starting to bring down that number and produce change on that issue? >> so where in the food chain is there the most room for optimism? >> yeah. >> well, the good news is that households actually produce the most waste when you look at all the levels of the food chain. and that was really startling when i, when i saw that statistic. it's based on one study in a county in new york where they looked at all the different parts of the food chain, and they found that homes represented 40% of that county's food waste. so it was pretty staggering there. it's both good news and bad news. the bad news is that we as americans are extremely wasteful. the good news is that we can have a really large impact and play a real role in reducing the amount of waste out there. yes. ma'am. >> what have you done in your own home to help eliminate waste? >> oh, good question.
[laughter] i just throw everything out. [laughter] well, so i was -- this stuff's kind of hard wired in me. that's part of why i got into this topic. i definitely grew up in a house that was leftover-friendly, and if you looked in our fridge when i was a kid or if you look in our fridge today, it's the same thing. there's containers of all sizes, and nothing's too small to keep. but since starting this project, i've started composting, and that's really my main contribution for keeping food out of the landfill. and i have a worm bin as well, and i should say i'm not a good composter. i compost, and it does okay. sometimes i get some soil out of it, but my main goal is just to keep it out of the landfill. and be i say that i'm not a great composter just to let people know it's not intimidating, or it shouldn't be
intimidating. it's not that difficult, and you don't have to be an expert to do it. i'm sure many of the folks here are trying it now and can back me up there. yes. >> whole foods was mentioned a number of times in the index. could you, please, comment on their mention in the book. >> >> um, sure. well, whole foods is what i would say the most visible example of the cult of perfection in our food and this idea that food hases to look beautiful -- has to look beautiful. and there's a certain superficiality in that. as a result of that way of thinking, a whole lot of food gets thrown out before it reaches the supermarket or even in our homes where we want things to look just so. so, you know, i don't mean to pick on whole foods specifically or -- they're not the sole example of this, but i definitely think that they're the leading practitioner of this
cult of perfection. and they certainly do some other things like composting, but at the same time i think that they're leading that, that charge in really valuing appearance over taste. so that's why i try and get people to look at what they see at a farmer's market and, you know, what you see in your backyard or garden. and food doesn't have to look perfect to taste good. that's a good question, though, thanks. yes. >> was the grocery store that you worked at interested or could they or are they allowed, the government body of durham county, to donate the produce that was being thrown away to shelters? >> that's a great question. they are allowed to donate and, actually, by the end of my time there we had started to donatement -- donate. i don't want to take too much credit, but i basically just put
two people in touch with each other and got them to think about it. and from the store's perspective, you know, it's saving them money on their waste disposal bill and, obviously, for food pantry they're getting all this fresh food that isn't perfect, but it's still perfectly edible. so, yeah, they can donate it, and most supermarkets actually do know mate food. it's more a question of what kinds of foods they're donating. pretty much every store out there is going to give you their stale bread or the day-old bread. there's no real liability worries there. so it's sort of a secret of the food bank world that there's just so much bread out there that sometimes they have to throw it auto. throw it out. it's more the proteins and fresh produce that they have a harder time getting ahold of. >> are places like walmart donating their breads and foods to food banksesome. >> it really depends. it varies from store to store.
there's no chain-wide policies. around here in orange county there's a fair amount of donating. that's where i began this research. but walmart, i should say, just announced that they're going to trim food waste 10-15% in their stores, so they're really starting to think about it. and as you all know, when walmart does something, it tends to have a ripple effect. anyone else have any questions? yes, in the back. >> what are your thoughts on ornamental foods like pumpkins, for instance? [laughter] this time of year? >> that's a very timely question. [laughter] it being right before halloween. funny you should ask that. i, actually, was just talking to a researcher. there's a study that's going to come out at the end of this year about household food waste, and the epa is sponsoring the study. sorry, the usda. but, basically, pumpkins are the
most wasted food in homes. [laughter] now, my first response to that was, duh. [laughter] it's kind of obvious. and my second response was, i can't really get too worked up about that because people are bringing the pumpkins home and carving them up and using them as jack-o'-lanterns, so, you know, some people, sure, are going to use the seeds or maybe make a pie out of it, but a lot of people don't. so in terms of ornamental gourd of all types, all shapes and sizes, i never thought i'd be saying that kind of thing, but in terms of ornamental gourds, i would say they're serving their purpose, and it's not really to be consumed as food. so i can't get too worked up about it. yes. >> from a global perspective, what are some of the countries that are really taking the lead on this issue that you've come across in your research? >> sure.
well, the country that i have had the most experience in outside of the u.s. is great britain, and i took a trip there, and one of the chapters is kind of holding up the u.k. as an example of where we can go with. they have recognized that food waste has environmental implications, and they're really dead set against wasting so much food. that being said, they have a long way to go. they waste about a third of all the food that comes into their homes, and in the u.s. it's probably around that, but the official estimate is more like 25% be. so there are other nations out there, other european nations that are doing a great job in terms of not having landfills, waste to energy in particular. unfortunately, those are not english-speaking countries, so i did not visit them. [laughter] i kind of had to decide where to go. but i don't want to give the impression that the u.k.'s the
only place that is doing innovative things, but compared to the u.s., they kind of put us to shame. >> do you know with the downturn in the economy has maybe lessened some of the waste in american homes? >> the downturn in the economy, it's, it's interesting. it's supposedly raised prices, right? i mean, we've all seen that. and i think when you look at that, it should have an impact, and i think it will. i don't think it's quite kicked in yet. the reason i would say that is because food is still tremendously cheap. when you look at the cost of food in relation to our income, it's at an all-time low. at least the latest figures. i'm sure it has gone up a little bit, but it's only about 10% of our household spending, and not only is that the lowest it's ever been, but it's less than any other nation spends on food. i think that's a big reason why we are among the world champions
in wasting food. to put a positive spin on it. yes. >> i was interested in your talk about at the end where you were talking about scrounging, and i was wondering how much did you go into the health implications of that? it seems like a lot of people don't have any problem, like, sharing with their family or friends, but as soon as those people become strangers, it's kind of like, you know, you suddenly think -- [inaudible] and all that kind of stuff. i was wondering if you actually found anything -- [inaudible] does that actually happen or is it pretty safe, actually? >> sure. so the health implications of scrounging. the people i spoke with, the scroungers i talked to said that it actually helped them. it made hair immune systems -- made their immune systems more robust. [laughter] now, i don't know if that was just ship, -- just spin, but i
didn't get sick day i was there. there's kind of an informal rule that if you're sick and you've bought food, you don't give it to the scroungers. they have little clues that they use. i think they turn their plates upside down to let the scrounge know that they shouldn't take that food. so, but it's interesting. the board of health tried to shut it down in the past. it was kind of teetering on the edge, but the person i spoke with there at the board of health said that he wouldn't do it, and he doesn't recommend it, but it's not illegal. basically, because of what you just said. yes. >> another question from the index. i noticed that you have the three major religions of christianity, judaism and islam mentioned in the index and just any comment along those lines of the role that they play in your book? >> can you expand the question a little bit? what are you -- what exactly are
you getting atsome. >> just religious institutions in general that you -- the role that they play in your book. >> okay. sure. well, they pretty much inform the basis of the ethical questions, and so the section i read from there was mostly talking to pastors. well, who of the three folks that i read about. but then there's a fair amount from kind of the old testament implications and a bit from the koran. so i definitely tried to look at those institutions as kind of the historical basis for why wasting food is wrong and some of the historical collusions people have had -- solutions people have had. the idea of gleaning is something that is in the judeo-christian bible where, you know, originally it was you leave the edges of your field unharvested so that the poor could come collect food.
it's come to take on a slightly different meaning. nowadays it's usually volunteers going out to a field and picking what a farmer isn't going to harvest. but it's the same end goal of getting food to those who need it. um, so any other questions? maybe we'll take one other question, and then we can have our big winner. yes. oh, okay. we'll do -- [inaudible] questions. [laughter] >> you hear about where meals are an experience and take your time and kind of enjoy it. could the speed with which we eat in this country and the fast food mentality even at home factor into our decisions to wastesome. >> i think that does play a role. having quick meals and not
eating together can actually lead to more waste. i know from my personal experience having communal meals teaches an appreciation of food, and i think that will go a long way to reducing waste. and then conversely, when we speed through or when we lead such busy lives, we often turn to convenience food. and, basically, getting takeout or ordering pizza. and a lot of times we fall into these bad habits where we'll buy all these fresh foods, and, you know, we know that that's the right thing to do, we know what's healthy and what we should be cooking, and we want to make these nice meals for our family. realistically, we don't have the time, so we kind of get ourselves into trouble where we buy too much fresh food, get off work it's 6 or 7, and there's just no way you're going to cook it. [laughter] so that might sound familiar. [laughter] and, basically, you have those
fresh foods that just get pushed back, and it's always tomorrow, tomorrow. and tomorrow never comes. i think that might be a james bond movie. [laughter] anyway, i think that definitely does play a role. okay, yes. >> so what is your favorite tip out of the book that all of us can take home and reduce our amount of food waste starting tonight? >> oh, so you're going to make me choose one tip out of the many in there. >> just pick one good one. >> okay, one good one. well, i mean, basically, if you're only going to do one thing, i would say to shop smarter. and that could mean if you don't like supermarkets and you're just going to go once a week, that you really plan your meals out and create that detailed shopping list. and really stick to it. because a lot of times when we stray from that list, we buy too much. if you do like supermarkets --
and i am one of those people -- and you go a fair amount, then that's great too. if you make those frequent, small trips, you're probably going to not have as many things just kind of getting pushed to the back of the fridge. okay. um, was there one more question? i'm kind of easy. if you want to ask one more question, it's fine. [laughter] but if not, i will conclude here. i will -- well, i'll conclude and then we'll have the winner, i almost forgot that. so as we've talked about a little bit, we are a pretty wasteful country, but there's definitely room for optimism. i think that this is the kind of issue that once you think about it, once you really start to picture waste and see it everywhere, you'll have no choice but to try and reduce it in your own lives. and while it's not the most important or the most glaring social problem in america, i
think it's the easiest one to fix. and we all have a role to play in fixing it. thanks. [applause] >> so my friend jerome from the interfaith food shuttle has been keeping a close eye on the food donations -- [laughter] and i'm going to build the drama. so i asked everyone to give a canned good, but if you wanted to bring more, the person who brought the most would win this certificate for a free book. so, jerome, what are the results? how many cans and who is the winner? >> we have -- thank you, john, for inviting us, and i'm here with elizabeth as well. thank everybody who with brought something. we have --
[inaudible] 18, 17 cans. anybody left any in their pockets? [laughter] we do have a runaway winner. i think betty right here, she brought in six cans. she was actually the first one here as well, so -- [applause] >> thank you. and i should thank the regulator book shop for donating this gift certificate for a free copy of "american wasteland." so thank you very much, i will give that to you. and i am going to head over there, and if people want, i will mark up your books with a little autograph. so thank you very much for coming, i really appreciate it. [applause] >> for more on jonathan bloom and his work, visit the author's web site, wastedfood.com.
>> we're at the national press club talking with charles ogletree about his book, the presumption of guilt. can you tell me what made you decide to write about the incident with henry louis gates? >> a lot of people e-mailed me, sent texts, faxes and calls after his arrest saying this happened to my grandmother, my uncle, my brother, and it was an amazing reaction. and it created news because it was professor gates, not jamal who lives in community. and it became even more of an issue because my dear former student and our president, barack obama, came to his defense, and that created a national issue that led to the beer summit. since i write about issues of racial justice, it was a natural thing to do, and i wanted people to say if professor gates can get arrested in situations like this when he gives two forms of id in his house and his only crime is arguing with the police officer in his house, then what happens to those who don't have
a lawyer, who don't have power? and this book explores that case, but it explores the broader issue of racial profiling as it's happened throughout our nation's history. >> did you learn anything that surprised you while you were researching the book? >> the first thing was very interesting. everyone thought that the woman who originally called, her name was lucille, was the nosey neighbor. she was racially profiling. in fact, when we got the 911 transcript what do we learn? he's the hero. she says, i see people, i'm calling, but i don't know if they live there or work there. the staffer said, well, are they white, black or hispanic? she says, i don't know, i think one's hispanic, but i don't know. the police report says they're black. she never said that. so all these things we thought we knew in july 2009, investigation, research and analysis show it was not the real story, and that's why the book has been so important. the last chapter's called 100 ways to look at a black man because for all these calls and faxes and other material i
received, most of the people who got in contact with me about racial profiling were professional black men. and i started doing research on that, thurgood marshall, the late johnnie cochran, john hope franklin, vernon jordan, spike lee, our attorney general, eric holder, federal judges, ministers, every -- doctors. and it just amazed me how many people had encounters with racial profiling, and most of them did nothing. because you know what they want? they don't want a billion dollars, they didn't want the satisfaction of a lawsuit, they simply wanted an apology. and i say that to say maybe you can use these stories to remind other people there is not hopelessness, but people who find themselves victimized by racial profiling can then tell that story and get other people to respond to it. >> thank you very much for your time. >> more than chicago economic
history, it is chicago economic history, but futures have, you know, transformed the financial system in ways that i think that people don't fully, maybe, appreciate and don't realize. and that goes for traders as well as for people now who are wrestling with these big concepts like derivatives and understanding where they came from and understanding what happened here, i think, is a story that really hasn't been told very much. and i, and i'm not so silly as to think that it's completely told in this book either. i mean, i'm hoping that this is, this is -- i scratch the surface of what i think is really interesting history, and it deserves a lot more attention. i know i have more stories in my notes that didn't make it in, so i hope that i can add to this record after this and another time because there just really is so much here. so, yes, so i asked bill to talk because i was hoping that he
might be able to explain to people who aren't in the industry who are here what i'm even talking about at all. >> right. >> because his family very much mirrors the story of the futures industry here in chicago. so there are -- maybe you could just start, if you don't mind, by what is a futures contract? >> right. i know, you know, a lot of people think it's a very mysterious, arcane type of business. but future bees contracts are, essentially, insurance products that are -- and that was the reason that the industry first developed. it was futures contracts are a way to offset risk on the part of both people who need to use commodities and people who produce commodities. and, you know, very simply a futures contract is a contract between a buyer and a seller for a specific commodity and a
specific price for a specific future delivery date. and i guess, you know, the easiest way to explain it in terms of how it's used by people to offset risk, i think one of the simplest examples is you take an airline company, someone who needs to use a lot of fuel on a regular basis. and, of course, if fuel prices go up, it can have a severe adverse impact on their profitability. so an airline company realizing that fuel, that crude oil is at $80 a barrel and they're concerned it may go to $1 o 00 -- $100 a barrel, they have the ability to purchase all they need at a given price of $80 knowing that there will be their final cost for the product. >> so they use futures because they have too much risk, right? they want to shove it off onto some other people. >> right. >> and i think what makes this such a fun business is chicago has all these people who are willing to take t
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