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Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal
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Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  227 ratings  ·  40 reviews
The true cost of what the global food industry throws away.

With shortages, volatile prices and nearly one billion people hungry, the world has a food problem—or thinks it does. Farmers, manufacturers, supermarkets and consumers in North America and Europe discard up to half of their food—enough to feed all the world's hungry at least three times over. Forests are destroyed
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Hardcover, 451 pages
Published October 12th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published July 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 913)
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Caroline
What a shocker of a book.

Tristram Stuart is a fireball campaigner. He's a freegan, someone who is happy to forage for free food in supermarket dumpsters. But he is also fantastically able. In 2011 he fed 5,000 people in London on food that would otherwise have gone to waste, and in 2014 he did the same thing with 6000 people in Brussels. He wants us all to wake up to the amount of food we are wasting - as individuals, farmers, food manufacturers and retail outlets. Our wanton behaviour with food
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Mason
This was one of the most captivating books I've read in a while—and it's not because of the writing. It's because the story is so astonishing. The sheer scale of waste, and the idea that we could reduce a lot of the pressure on the planet and feed the starving, simply by avoiding so much waste, is really appealing to me.

I thought I knew a lot about the food system and humanity's impacts on the planet, but none had made it clear how big of a contributor food waste is. Reading this book was like w
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Michelle
Having worked in food retail before I was very aware of the food waste problem going in, but quite possibly not the scale to which it was occurring. Tristram Stuart obviously has an agenda, and many of his stats are used for sensational purposed- especially as many of the stats were so broad they were essentially meaningless (what does 30%-90% actually mean?)

That being said I know I will be more aware of what I eat and buy. My lettuce is already in a jar of water in my fridge. I am now convince
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Aleksandra Taranov
Stuart tackles the topic of food waste and makes a strong argument for its importance. I appreciate the way that he directly connects food waste to land use in other parts of the globe.

I also enjoyed his use of statistics and information on *why* the phenomenon happens. I was surprised that smaller stores waste more but unsurprised that people are actually terrible at determining how much they are wasting.

It was also good to read about the interaction between supermarkets and manufacturers and
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Chris Walker
After getting over the fact that the author ate from garbage bins for several years without any apparent ill effects, I found this book to be a well researched and heartfelt treatise against food waste. While the wealth of statistics was soporific at bedtime, I found enough of interest to push through to the end, although I skipped the comprehensive appendix. The book is written from a British perspective, but there are common issues in Australia. The author, being a former pig farmer, would lik ...more
Happyreader
My God!!! The sheer magnitude of the waste and its environmental impact is astounding!!! Makes me want to go into food systems work. From the supermarkets to the food manufacturers to the restaurants and consumers, so much waste all along the system. And every time food is thrown out, it's not just the food that's wasted, it's all the forests that were sacrificed for extra farm land, all the fossil fuels that were consumed to farm and transport the food, all the manpower, and other resources tha ...more
Andres
Completely shocking book about the enormous amount of food that is thrown away, food that could have been consumed by the hungry (domestically or internationally), food that cost money and resources (the energy, water, time and additional money that went into planting, growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, and transporting it all) only to have it be thrown away.

The author covers how waste occurs at every step “from farm to fork”, how much of it occurs, who does the wasting, and why the was
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Marcelv
I was somewhat aware of the topic, after having seen a German documentary/report and that, combined with this book, paints a grisly picture of how we deal with food.

Since i saw the before mentioned documentary, I wasn't disgusted by his freeganism. I can understand that some people have issues with that.

Back to the book. It clearly describes, based on facts and research, that a lot of food is simply wasted for no good reason. The author refrains from preaching but simply bombards you with data a
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David
I am surprised this is such a wonderful book that no one reads..I never believe that we do not have enough food, simply we do not know how to eat efficiently...and recycle efficiently...author uses detailed data and objective point of view to point out the developed countries' waste of food per person..listing the ways of American, EU, Japan, you know what..(I add China)..in conclusion: America leading most democratic countries (which is not really)..individual and corporations are joining force ...more
Katie
Waste was eye-opening in terms of how much food is wasted (primarily) in the developed world. The author takes us through the waste produced at every step of the process from farm to plate. He covers farming practices, harvest, processing, grocery store stocking, handling of overstock in restaurants and leftovers in family homes. One of the most shocking chapters is about fishing practices and how much sea life is destroyed in the pursuit of our most commonly eaten species. The author cites page ...more
Jodi
This book more than anything will encourage me to eat less meat, and to consider the source of my fish. It was an eye-opener how much grain is required for the production of meat; as was the amount of waste generated throughout the system. It is a little depressing and I am hopeful that in the five years since the book has been published, some progress on this front has been made. I have always (like many others) not liked to waste food. But now it feels a little more like a moral imperative. It ...more
Joshua Baringer
This book was a good book, but there are a lot of stats and graphs in it. This caused me to get lost from time to time, but the facts, when understood, were astounding. The book talked a lot of how other countries are trying to cut down on food waste, by eating the less appealing parts of animals. One of my favorite chapters talked about how people in china have stands next to the subways and sell boiled sheep lungs, and meat stuffed intestines. I would recommend this book to people who either c ...more
Anna Pitt
Being a researcher for my own books and talks on waste reduction, I've read many a book on this subject, but it is this book by Tristram Stuart that really made me pull my finger out and decide to do something about my concerns over the amount of waste, food and other, that we are a prepared to dismiss as 'normal' or even 'acceptable'.

It is probably 10 years or more since I have allowed any food waste from my home to go to landfill. But reading 'Waste'has made me consider even the small amount o
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Shinynickel
Oct 03, 2009 Shinynickel marked it as to-read
Off this review:

Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal
By Tristram Stuart (W.W. Norton & Co.)
The global food crisis of 2008 revealed a system strained to its limits. But, as journalist Tristram Stuart argues in Waste, some of that strain is artificial. Farmers, manufacturers, restaurants, and consumers in the US and Europe discard between 30 and 50 percent of their food every year—enough to feed the world’s hungry three times over. Traveling from rubbish bins behind supermarkets to sushi c
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Jane Walker
Freeganism is not for everyone, as he admits. But he does expose the colossal waste of food, and targets not just the consumer but the whole supply chain. Perhaps there is not enough attention to the vested interests which make reform next to impossible.
Devin Wallace
Piled as high as supermarket bins filled with good food, Waste is a must-read for anyone who is either unaware of the global food problem or has not recognized all of the causes of said crisis. I admit, wasn't fully aware of the scope of waste. As Stuart mentions, I was one of the many people who believed the problem stemmed from personal and household waste. However, as he documents, much of the waste is commited on extremely obscene levels from stores and large supermarkets. While dense on the ...more
Artemisa Bravo Rueda
Libro con información absolutamente descorazonadora (y que es importantísima conocer) acerca del nivel de DESPILFARRO que todos cometemos. Muy recomendable.
Caitlin
The first quarter of this book was five stars. I was fascinated and appalled and had trouble putting it down and not reading it in its entirety to my husband. The next three quarters were more three-star territory, sometimes dull, sometimes preachy, sometimes repetitive, all mixed in with some interesting, helpful stuff. On the whole it was a good book, and while I was already a pretty careful grocery planner it has made me think harder about not only what but where I want to make my food purcha ...more
skein
I really fucking hate how Goodreads does not save my reviews if I spend too long writing them.

Shorter review: more substance! fewer unimaginable examples! (Quick, kids - draw me 275 tonnes of imperfect tomatoes rotting in the field!)
More guidance for the normal consumer! Less pretense that being a "fregan" is changing anything or is a viable choice for much of the world!
More focus on the human end of food waste (starvation)! Less focus on "gee, aren't corporations just awful"!

Also, the notes/bi
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Annett
Tristram Stuart gives an insightful account of the incredible amounts of food that get wasted on a global scale. He backs his findings with a lot of statistical material and enriched his UK-focussed view with a chapter on Japan and South Korea. The important essence of this book is that everybody can do something about the waste: consumers, supermarkets, producers, fisheries and government. And since we all belong to at least one of these groups, we have the opportunity to contribute to reducing ...more
Elena
This was fine.
Melanie
Jul 09, 2012 Melanie marked it as to-read
Shelves: never-finished
Very good but I'm going to have to put this one down for a while. Packed with statistics and can be overwhelming at times, but there is some really great information too. One of the main problems with the book that I have found so far is that the statistics he gives are all calculated in different formats for varying countries that makes it nearly impossible to compare them to each other. After reading The Big Thirst that was packed with statistics I need a break.....I will come back to this one ...more
Marian
Some great field work and statistics about the scale of global food waste. Motivated by seeing bins full of edible food behind supermarkets and restaurants in his home city of London, he embarks on a thorough research investigation into how food is wasted and lost as it travels from farms to supermarkets to restaurants and households. He offers relevant policy proscriptions for governments, best practice examples for businesses, and helpful tips for consumers.
Desiree
Last year's was Omnivore's Dilemma. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK I have read this year. Please seek it out. It's a bit heady and focuses largely on the giant problem in the UK, but it's so full of information and SOLUTIONS, not just complaints... you must read this. And then pressure your supermarkets and your legislators to take the steps he outlines. Nothing in this world ever changes without a small group of committed people, right? (to paraphrase Margaret Mead).
Marcus Tay
Boring book with way too much statistics, but with the last 150 pages out of a 450 page book as notes and appendix, perhaps the author is trying to prove that his statistics are reliable.

Still this book has been an enlightenment. I always thought that food wasted at the table is just food wasted at the table, but lots of food is already wasted at the production.

Stil it is a heavy read, worth reading for the knowledge it brings though.
Franziska
This was another one that I didn't quite finish, but that was actually pretty interesting. At times it was boring and hard to read. Actually a lot of it was like this, which is one reason why I didn't finish it. But the information was rather compelling, and shocking, and sad. And moved me to action for a few weeks. Thinking about it now, I should do better again. We're wasting way too much food, folks. Very insightful. Fairly boring.
Amanda
Not my favorite non-fiction but I'd recommend it. Amazing how much food is wasted right from the field and a bit disturbing the amount of food that heads to the landfill vs. feeding farm animals. I feel pretty good about the low amount of food we throw away, and I'm surely a personal garbage disposal. My plate is clean after each meal, in addition to, my vegetarian dinner friends!
Brooke
Thoroughly enjoyed the idea of the book and it really made me think. But, that said, it was WAY TOO much information for the average joe. I think I could have gotten the concept in about 30 pages or a really well written news story. Eventually, I just skimmed and read parts that I found more interesting. Definitely a topic I will read more about.
Mary Olive
I found most of this book pretty interesting and enlightening on matters that I tend to overlook - how my personal choices affect industy quality standards for example. It was written by a British author, so most of his facts and references have to do with stores and policies in the UK and EU, but even so the information is relevant and captivating.
Jesus
Oct 21, 2009 Jesus marked it as to-read
Recommended to Jesus by: NPR
A program in San Francisco where they recycle food waste was highlighted on the radio just before a review of this book. Previously there was a review of it that focused on how excess waste affects the water. The solution being provided was nice, but mainly I am glad that they found an excuse to talk about this book again.
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Tristram Stuart is the winner of the international environmental award, The Sophie Prize 2011, for his fight against food waste. Following the critical success of Tristram’s first book, The Bloodless Revolution (2006), ‘a genuinely revelatory contribution to the history of human ideas’, Tristram has become a renowned campaigner, working in several countries to help improve the environmental and so ...more
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“Imagine if the standard method for killing cattle were to use bulldozers to haul a net through the countryside, uprooting trees and hedges, smashing ancient monuments and exterminating along with the cows everything from badgers and stoats to lapwings and barn owls, all of which perished slowly by suffocation. This is what happens everyday under the cover uf the oceans...” 0 likes
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