Notes on waste, water, whatever
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Do you really understand the high cost of food waste…

… to your pocketbook, to the environment, to the world’s hungry bellies? Read my latest story for National Geographic — entitled “One Third of Food Is Lost or Wasted: What Can Be Done” —  by clicking on this word.

If I could legally reproduce on this page the opening photograph, by Robert Clark, I would. It’s spectacular, though a little confounding. Perusing a USDA list of foods wasted in a year by the average American family, the photo team bought all this food shiny and new, in accurate quantities, and arranged it artfully around the Waldt family of New Jersey. The Waldts, by the way, probably waste less than the typical family (that is, less than 1,600 pounds of food a year). They cook most of their meals from scratch, plan meals carefully, dine out infrequently, and re-purpose and eat all their leftovers. (Naturally, they compost their remains.)

Most of the food in the photo was donated to a halfway house after the shoot. But the Waldts grilled most of the big beautiful salmon, cured the rest as ceviche, and used the bones for stock. Their dog, who’s also in the photo, ate the skin.

As some kind soul tweeted about my story: “Come for the photo, stay for the words.”

(Big tip of my hat to food-waste gurus Jonathan Bloom, at, and to Tristram Stuart, at, Dana Gunders, at, and all the excellent number crunchers at the USDA’s Economic Research Service.)


1 Catrina Ascenuik { 03.19.15 at 7:34 pm }

Hi, I’m a college professor trying to access your National Geographic article via the website. However, when it goes to the page, there is an error message. Do you have another link which has the full article?



2 eroyte { 01.26.16 at 6:33 am }

Hi Catrina. Did you try this link:
I have another food waste story appearing in NatGeo this coming March. Check it out!

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