Yes, that Rose Bowl

“Every day, America wastes enough food to fill the Rose Bowl. Yes, that Rose Bowl – the 90,000-seat football stadium in Pasadena, California.”

How’s that for an opener?

Those are actually the first two lines that appear in the introduction of American Wasteland. I recently picked up Jonathan Bloom’s 2010 book in the bargain bin. Ironic that it was already marked down, but symbolic of the throw-away society that he detests.

I’m just a few pages into the book, and because I’m a notoriously slow reader, don’t look for a full online review anytime soon. I was impressed with the title of the first chapter, the eerily familiar “Waste from Farm to Fork.”

At first glance, I’m glad to see Bloom doesn’t just rest the blame of food waste on farms. Nope, everyone including foodies, restaurants, grocery stores, and kindergarteners are responsible for what Bloom calls an epidemic.

Yes, it drives me crazy when we have to throw spoiled food from our fridge, but a book on food waste is not typically one I would grab off the shelf like a half-priced bag of potato chips. I suppose I was drawn to it because the issue of “food security” comes up so often in my line of work.

In my mind, food waste and food security go together like peas and carrots. As our world population soared past seven billion people this year, I worry if we are focused enough on how to feed them all. It would seem that taking a look at how we best use everything that we already grow is at least part of the solution.

Food security is an issue that is not going to go away for those of us who work in agriculture. On second thought, it’s not going away for anybody. Food security is one of those issues that seem so glaringly alarming, and yet it hardly registers on the average American’s radar.

50-100-70

Consider this statistic. In the next 50 years, the world will need to produce 100% more food than it currently does. It’s said that 70% of that increased production will have to come from technological advances.

It’s time to get serious about funding the type of research that is going to help us feed the masses in the years to come. If wars are fought over oil, it’s not hard to imagine that they will be fought someday over more basic things like food and water.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s all start to solve the food security dilemma by trying not to waste food as we celebrate the New Year and watch our beloved Badgers take to the Rose Bowl field in the “Granddaddy of them All” this Monday.

Casey Langan is executive director of public relations for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.