Food Foolish: The Hidden Connection Between Food Waste, Hunger and Climate Change • Use the following checklist as a guide for writing critical book reviews. 1. What does the book cover? (i.e., this i

Food Foolish


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Book Review

‘Food Foolish: The Hidden Connection between Food Waste, Hunger and Climate Change’ by Eric B. Schultz and John M. Mandyck focuses on climate change, food, and water scarcity as well as poverty. John M. Mandyck is the Chief Sustainability Officer of UTC and Industrial, a company that researches on numerous areas and manufactures things as engines and systems, elevators and other industrial products. Eric Schultz, on the other hand, is the Chairman of a logistics company. In the book, the two look at the environmental advantages and social opportunities created by wasting less food.

The book talks about a critical topic that relates to everybody: our food’s future. By using case studies and different data, the two show how critical the issue is. In the book, feeding of four billion more people from a hidden source of food is contradictory unless farmers reinvent themselves. Such enormous amounts of food, for the ever-increasing population, can feed those suffering from food shortages. The estimated source of food can save enough water for satisfying the water need in the whole of the African continent. This source of food is not from outer space but is instead the food we waste each day.

The book tries offering a solution to address issues like climate change, poverty, conflicts, water shortages as well as education. The focus of the book lies in the two authors tackling the issue on food waste. According to them, food wasted each year can be compared to 1.3 billion elephants, each a metric ton. This is what the globe losses in terms of wasted food from a food supply chain, each year (Neil, 2010).  

The authors wrote the book to people concerned with climate change, agriculture, and farming as well as those who are concerned with global dilemmas as food and water shortages. Their potential bias is that of the proposed solution highlighting on technologically advanced regions. It should have instead put into consideration areas that are not as advanced in terms of technology or culture.

The situation is about to get worse. In a world of 7 billion people, half of them live in cities. Given that the world population will grow in another 40 years by 35%, close to 70% of these people will live in towns. People will be moving further away from their food sources. And when we talk about food, it is hard not to mention farming.

Agriculture and farming play a significant role in an economy. The human ventures act as foundation of a country’s financial state not only by supplying food or raw material, but by also providing employment. The two use only 1.5 billion hectors, which is an estimated 11%, of the globes land surface for crop production. Though the figure represents what is being used for cultivation, this is just one-third of the globes land estimated to favor crop farming. As a lot of earth’s land area is utilized to farm, so do the amounts of resources needed to make food production happen. Unfortunately, what hurts most is that 40% of the food is wasted or thrown away, on either never leaving the farms or served on the table. 

Noteworthy, all the food grown in the world is enough to feed close to 10 billion people. Nowadays, around 7.5 billion earthlings dwell on Planet Earth, but only about 6 billion people get something to eat daily. Yearly, there are piles of waste amounting to a total of 1.4 billion metric tons, which is equivalent to the cumulative weight of 1.4 billion elephants.

The most commonly wasted food types are grains and cereals, based on a United Nation (U.N) research regarding food waste and food loss. The other five represent the most delicate of the food types and the most perishable: fruits, milk and eggs, vegetables, meat and fish and seafood, and account for more than 50% of all wasted or lost foods on the planet. Identifying what is lost indicates where vitamins, nutrients, and minerals are squandered. To feed more people, now and in the future, we have to stop wasting food for fear to live on an increasingly hungrier planet. Tragedies explain this further as 800 million people will go to bed hungry while another 2 billion suffer from silent hunger. The authors describe how close to a third of the world is getting food, but not necessarily the right kind of making them the most productive. They do not get the needed minerals, vitamin or nutrients that they ought to, because these food types are lost first as they are the most vulnerable.

John Mandyck and Eric Schultz share their research findings on why we waste food. The first reason happens at the consumer level and occurs when someone buys more food than is needed. In its abundance, it rots and the consumer ends up throwing away some or most of it. But most, as per the book, occurs at the production and distribution level. Here, food rots in various places as the open-air market or during transportation, and this leaves a big carbon footprint. According to the United Nations, the carbon emissions from the lost foods are 3.6 billion metric tons annually. The two compare food waste and loss to a country, rating it third as the most inexhaustible in green gas emission in the world (Gore, 2006).

Another issue addressed is that of water. The oceans cover close to 71% of the planet yet we only get 2% of our food from there. Given the food crisis, the only other logical place to get more food is the ocean. However, this would cause a cycle of carbon emissions as the ocean absorbs about a third of carbon emissions. Lower carbon emissions should be resorted to as a good move for the climate and our oceans too. Also, we have access to only 1.3% of fresh water on the planet. It becomes sad when we use 70% of this measure to water our crops and throw 40% of it away. Wasted food translates to wasted water and wasted resources.

He urges that at the consumer level, steps be taken to prevent the one- third of food lost. It is the quickest as compared to the production and distribution level, which both need time to work with the government and international agencies to handle such issues in these emerging economies.

At a concluding chapter, there three simple actions suggested towards food wasted at the consumer level. Shopping with a plan is the first step, as compared to impulse buying. Just because it is available and pleasant to look at does not mean it should be bought because it is beautiful. Another thing to consider is that not all food and fruit is produced by nature uniformly or in the same manner. There are perfect apples, but there are those that are not round. What then happens to the carrot that is not oblong? These too have to be accepted as they are equally delicious and nutritious. Lastly, if eating from a restaurant is not as comfortable as eating from the house, then it is better to carry food and eat it away from prying eyes. There is no shame eating a whole burger at home or just enjoying as many as possible without having to feel embarrassed or leaving the meal unfinished.

Wasting food has foolish consequences. Especially in this time of climate change, water shortages and hunger, it is irresponsible for us as a society to waste food. Despite the challenges, there is hope as in working together we will be able to uncover the hidden source of food that can sustainably feed our world.

The arguments presented in the book are logical and correct. There are however no mentions of scaling down food stores to discourage bulk buying, or the evolving of local cuisine to improve on the food quality especially those straight from the farm instead of using processed foods. In terms of information provided, the authors Mandyck and Schultz use data from different organizations around different parts of the country to prove the seriousness that food wastage has on the world. However, the book could have used more solutions instead of just focusing on the improvement of transportation and distribution. When it comes to information and technology, parts as the U.S have operating cold storage units to prolong the foods life and make it safe for consumption despite days of transportation. But some places have no systems in place or technology as advanced to keep foods fresh. A large part of the globe still struggles with such systems, and if not, they struggle with maturing. It is among the things overlooked in the book.

It almost seems like bias as their experiences, and their expertise goes hand in hand with their ideas and in areas of those critical components. Mandyck is a Chief Sustainability Officer at United Technologies Corporation, which is one of the largest manufacturers of cooling tools. His friend Schultz is a former Sensitech CEO, a company providing cold chain monitoring solutions. In the book, they descriptively explain how cooling technologies and cold chain monitoring can be a viable solution to saving food in the production and distribution level.

From other reading materials, they take a different stand when it comes to the whole issue of food waste and loss. It takes a positive approach to increase yields and crops. But there are more abundant crops which make the prices subsidized due to aspects as size, and be sold to consumers especially those in low income. Effects as those on soil quality and decreased food value of the crops being harvested are highlighted as not being addressed. There is also no mention of what the possible solution could be. According to the article, the need for action in the book is less compelling thus falls short of the expectations and the degree to which it could have addressed the critical issue. According to them, it would have been more effective had it been a twenty-page book rather than a 198-page book.

What struck when reading through the book is the enormous amount of data from countries to various organizations like the World Health Organization, Food and Agricultural Organization and the United Nations. The use of these numbers and data, in my opinion, is to drive the point home and prove the degree of seriousness the matter requires. The references are close to 250, which might be too much considering the number of pages the book has. On the negative side, there is too much focus and information on how the food crisis and climate change is an issue. It could have instead, been in a chapter or two. Otherwise, the rest of the book should have focused more on the possible solutions to the crisis, while keeping in mind the cultures, the country’s infrastructure as well as their level of technological advancement.

Some of the questions that arose included those of transportation, especially in the production and distribution level. Some areas are inaccessible, yet they have the hungriest people. What happens when they do not have the equipment to keep food fresh, like a cold storage unit, and how are they to get nutritious meals with the state of their roads? With the government involved, things take a longer time. It, however, cannot also be assumed that the government will work on the issue within a particular time.

Another question that arose was that concerning reducing the number of food stores. It could negatively affect the people in largely populated areas, with both the upper and lower income groups involved. For the low-income level, they will need nutritious meals though the upper class does not struggle to get food and fruits. The book does not address the middle ground when it comes to these food stores storing food for its consumers. Besides, the types of food available should include all the income classes without making either group feel left out. 

In conclusion, ‘Food Foolish: The Hidden Connection between Food Waste, Hunger and Climate Change’ convinces policy-makers, those in the private sector and consumers that it would be foolish not to make a change in addressing the issue on food and wasting it. It focuses on the positive side of taking care of our lands and yields. Water highlighted as the main resource goes to waste yet it is the worlds’ decreasing natural resource. As for quality, improving measures taken to enhance economic opportunities is essential in developing the population of the farmers who are the most vulnerable in the chain. The use of data and a controversial approach makes it the best in educating and informing, as well as introducing the food, climate change, and water issues.


Kelly, T. (2006). The Lost Men: The Harrowing Saga of Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party

Gore, A. (2006). An inconvenient truth: The planetary emergency of global warming and what we can do about it

Neil, S. (2012). Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body

John, M. and Eric, B. (2015) Food Foolish: The Hidden Connection Between Food Waste, Hunger and Climate Change

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