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Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  461 ratings  ·  65 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
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published October 12th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2009)
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3.94  · 
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 ·  461 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ecology
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
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
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
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, 2-star
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
Amy Layton
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I knew that we had a waste problem, especially as a country, but I never knew just how bad.  I never knew how many restrictions there were for farmers to even be able to sell their food to markets, or the reasoning behind markets' manner of purchasing, selling, and wasting of so much food.  

The photographs that Stuart includes are absolutely breath-taking and stunning.  Not to mention, of course, horrifying.  To know that capitalism creates waste is one thing, but to see it is another.  

Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every day hundreds of people around the world go to sleep with empty stomachs. True to its name, the book uncovers the global food scandal and gives us an insight into the food waste at each and every process in the global food industry. The book also underlines the fact that our craving for over stocking food is cause of deforestation, global warming and climatic changes. The author will leave you feeling guilty about every morsel that you have ever left on your plate in the past. This book hig ...more
Dec 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was already quite aware of the scale of food waste and most of its associated economic and environmental problems before I read this book. Still, this is a very comprehensive, well-researched book on European food waste situations and food disposal policies as of 2008. Tristram Stuart’s passion for reducing food waste and raising awareness is evident through his actions and writing. I especially enjoy how in depth Stuart tackles food waste issues at different levels from personal to household, ...more
Chris Walker
Feb 05, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
Apr 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Mimouna
Excellent, but one of the most disturbing books I've ever read.

I have never been one to waste food and have always been upset at others who did so. But I had NO IDEA of the amount of food wastage in the entire industry. In rich, industrialized countries, it is estimated that out of the total food harvested (counting wastage at every level of production), 60% never makes it to consumers' mouths. This is not just vegetable waste; millions of animals are killed and then WASTED each year. It made me
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know this is a few years old now, buts it's still a great book to scare you into being a better consumer. Not least as all the things not working in 2009 still aren't working (I assume that doesn't count as a spoiler?!).
If you watched Hugh's war on waste you might well suspect the direction was lifted straight from this book, probably was, and just shows how next to nothing has changed.
It's a very easy read without dumbing anything down. If I can read it in two days it MUST be a page turner.
Stuart provides a straightforward message to decrease environmental impact an solve world hunger: waste less food. Similarly to 'Eating Animals', the thesis is both well-founded by numbers and interviews as well are personal. Very recommended for the ecological minded!
Juliet Wilson
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment
This sobering insight into just how much food is wasted across the world is a must read for anyone who wants to do their bit to reduce food waste. The book is slightly out of date (2009) but many of the issues are still as urgent as when it was written.

It details how much food is wasted through the whole cycle from growing food through distributing it to retailers, the unsold food that is discarded by retailers and the food that is wasted by consumers. It also demonstrates how this waste puts pr
Mark McTague
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yes, this is an "issue book," but far from being one that appeals only to certain populations with particular interests, this should appeal to everyone who a) prefers eating to not eating and b) prefers a habitable planet, and one that still has substantial forests, ocean life, and an atmosphere and climate that is not hostile to life. Food waste, the subject of this book, is far more than just "eat all your vegetables because kids are hungry in _____." Stuart shows precisely how food waste is c ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is great and sad simultenously. It tells us a story about the way humans keep on ignoring the environmental and social problems, created by wasting food in enormous quantity.
The book is inspiring and motivating the reader to cut down on household waste. We shall start from our househols and families, but it is not enough. Societies need to put pressure on the companies, so that the changes take place throughout the whole supply chain. If we want to save the planet, stop wasting food i
Christine Kenney
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Kudos to this author for dumpster diving, inventorying and living off their contents.
Chapter 18 on an action plan is a worthwhile. The preceding 17 chapters were repetitive but raised some interesting points. The claim I found least persuasive was that if the everyone has access to sufficient food, this will manifest in better environmental conservation. Wouldn't population growth once again leave some of us hungry?... but it is a comfort to know that there is slack everywhere in the food supp
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I was not even able to bring myself to finish this. I agree...but I dont and again and again. Waste of my time? I dont know yet. ...more
Milton Lee
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not a fun book, but one that needs to be read.
Feb 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: food, nonfiction
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
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 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) conclusion: America leading most democratic countries (which is not really)..individual and corporations are joining force ...more
Joshua Baringer
Dec 09, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eco
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
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Oct 03, 2009 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
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazingly important book that needs to be read by everyone in the 'developed' world, at the very least so that they learn that using green bags to bring the groceries home and digging a vegetable patch in is not doing enough to help the environment. As the author says 'By throwing away food you are paying for: the wanton degradation of the environment, the starvation of people on the other side of the world, pollution in your local landfill site, unnecessary global warming, water depl ...more
Jenny Taylor
Feb 06, 2017 rated it liked it
As other reviewers have noted, Waste is heavy with facts and figures, which causes it to read like a scientific paper at times. While the content is important, I found Jonathan Bloom's American Wasteland to be a much more readable book on the topic of food waste.
Devin Wallace
Oct 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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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