Friday, July 10, 2015

Food Foolish Files #1: It's a Panacea

A panacea.  Not.
In Food Foolish we try to deliver two simple messages.

First, when we waste food, we harm people, damage the environment, deplete our land and water resources, reduce national security and slow the growth of livable, sustainable cities.  That's the bad news--and we spend considerable time in Food Foolish detailing where and how some of this harm is occurring.  (As Einstein said, or should have said, "If I had 60 minutes to save the world, I'd spend 55 minutes defining the problem.")  

But the second message, and the really good news is this: We don't have to waste food--at least not at the astonishing rate of one-third of everything we produce today.  Food Foolish profiles work being done by good people all around the world to improve harvests, enhance distribution, and change buying and eating habits.  

In a world where 800 million people are hungry and millions malnourished, food waste is one of the truly "big problems" facing humankind.  What makes it an especially compelling issue, however, is that reducing food waste is a panacea.

Panacea.  That's a word we don't get to use that often.  It means universal cure.  Elixir.  Wonder drug.  Magic bullet.

Until John and I wrote Food Foolish, I knew of one and only one panacea (not counting beer, of course).  It was exercise.  Done correctly, it does nothing bad and everything good: live longer, live better, feel better, look better, sleep better, less stress, less sickness, less disease, think smarter.  Clothes fit.  I even have a friend, a-hem, who is not nearly as cranky or difficult when he gets to exercise.

What happens when we waste less food?  Another panacea.  Less greenhouse gas--a lot less. (If you've bought the book, see chapter 6.)  Less stress on the land and biodiversity (chapter 3).  Less stress on our dwindling freshwater supplies (chapter 7).  Greater food security and national security, and less conflict (chapter 9).  More money (chapter 8).  Healthier cities--which are growing globally by 180,000 people each day (chapter 11). 

And I've saved the best for last: Less hunger.  Less human suffering, especially infants and children.  Improved quality of life around the globe.  A healthier humankind.

Co-author John Mandyck and I pretending to discuss
broccoli recipes but really scheming if we can write a
book that can be read in a single cross-country flight.  You
might sense intuitively that broccoli is just not that funny.
We already have enough food to feed everyone (chapter 10).   And knowing that, if we don't yet have a panacea, we certainly have a pending panacea.  It's an alliterative marvel, and it's within our reach (chapters 13, 14) Wouldn't it be great to give it a try?

Food Foolish is now available on Amazon, and we've got a website dedicated to the book here.  John and I designed Foolish to be read in a single cross-country flight.  Well--if the flight departs two hours late.  And has an hour layover at O'Hare.  OK--we didn't design it to be read in a single cross-country flight.  We're not that clever.  But you might still be able to do it, and in any case, I promise you'll find it absorbing.  Chapter 1 has Malthus, The Population Bomb, the Green Revolution, the Millennium Declaration.  Chapter 2 has the Houston Food Bank, the UN's World Food Programme. . .by the time you're done with chapter 4 you'll know more about bananas than you thought possible.  And you'll never throw one away again, no matter how black it is.  Trust me.  

In fact, that's not a bad place to start a panacea.