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Posts tagged ‘corporate’

Waste

Waste by Tristram Stuart

Image via Bookchanging.

Title: Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal

Author: Tristram Stuart

Year of Publication: 2009

Genre Keywords: agriculture, conservation, corporate, environmentalism, equality, government, health, malnutrition, policy, poverty, social problems.

Summary: Can you imagine? We live on a planet where people die from starvation and malnutrition every single day . . . but they don’t have to. The wealthy produce and consume more than enough food to ensure everybody’s thriving. In fact, the amount of food we waste as a matter of course could feed all the world’s hungry if we were only more careful about how we use it! Tristram Stuart takes a penetrating look at the ways British supermarkets, food suppliers, restaurants, farms, fisheries, and families all contribute to the problem of waste. Obviously we can’t send our near-spoiling tomatoes to West Africa to alleviate starvation . . . but with foresight, we could stop producing more food than we can consume, liberating land to use for crops that can actually help the global poor to get fed.

Who’ll Love It: If you’ve got a head for facts and figures, it’s fascinating reading. But even those who are less mathematically inclined (self included) will get the vivid picture Stuart paints of the shocking travesty of human wastefulness and the ways we can combat it. For anybody interested in reducing their environmental footprint – or, for that matter, spending less money at the supermarket – the book is full of information that will teach you how to consume more sustainably.

How Can I Make A Difference? A lot of the large-scale wasters in Stuart’s book are corporate: big supermarkets, agri-business, and commercial food producers. But there are ways to save even on the individual level. Even the most frugal of people – and I come from a long line of very frugal people – can learn from Tristram Stuart’s eco-friendly ideas. Nor do you have to go as far as he does to cut back your wasteline. (Stuart describes dumpster-diving for perfectly good food that’s been tossed out by wasteful businesses instead of purchasing his meals.)  Some less extreme suggestions for trimming your waste and  your budget:

  • Write a shopping list while you’re still at home, so you can check for forgotten items in the back of your fridge, cupboard, and freezer.
  • Don’t shop hungry! People who buy groceries after having eaten are less likely to impulse-buy unnecessary items.
  • Plan your menus so you can use up leftover cooking materials.
  • Stick to your list: don’t be seduced by marketing schemes trying to get you to buy more.
  • Wasted groceries

    Image via InfoChange India.

    Get a big freezer. It’s an economical way to make it possible to buy bulk meats or produce near the end of its shelf life and save it until you’ll be able to eat it. You can also freeze bread to keep it from going stale.

  • Visit farmers’ markets, where you can buy knobbly-looking produce that often gets rejected by fussy supermarkets.
  • Do your homework, and refuse to buy food from companies that use unsustainable practices . . . just like when people began avoiding tuna that wasn’t dolphin-friendly or started favouring brands of chips that cut out trans fats. Now it’s a marketing feature!
  • Eat the crusts off your bread. Alternatively, turn them into breadsticks, bread crumbs, and croutons. Whatever you do, don’t just toss them in the trash!
  • Skip the step in the recipe that tells you to peel potatoes, carrots, parsnips, apples, or pears. It’s often not necessary and it stretches your food purchase – you paid for that apple peel!
  • Learn more about what best-before dates really denote. Food that’s “expired” usually isn’t. It may have passed its absolute freshest point, but it’s a very long way from being inedible.
  • Cut back on your meat consumption, and consider using parts of the animal considered unconventional in the Western world. There are some great recipes available if you’re willing to look!
  • Teach children about where their food comes from (that’s the land and the people who grow it, not the supermarket shelves) so they learn to respect it as a product of somebody else’s hard work, not an inexhaustible and free resource that they can waste with impunity.
  • Don’t force guilt on people for failing to overeat: that’s a waste, too. Instead, learn (and help others learn) to take no more than what you’ll eat, finish what’s on your plate, and take what’s left over to work or school as a hot lunch instead of fixing a sandwich. Or serve it as leftovers in place of the next night’s cooking.
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Creature

Creature

Image via Fantastic Fiction.

Title: Creature

Author: John Saul

Year of Publication: 1989

Genre Keywords: conspiracy, corporate, experiments, Frankenstein, high school, horror, medicine, popularity, science, sports, suspense, techno-thriller, teen, thriller.

Summary: A corporate promotion lands the Tanner family in a gorgeous company town nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Everything there seems perfect . . . but is it a little too perfect? The family’s eldest son, Mark Tanner, doesn’t have a chance to think about it; he’s too busy not fitting in. Short and scrawny in a high school full of athletic superstars, he’d rather be exploring nature or caring for his pet rabbits than roughhousing on the football field. Still, when the local sports clinic offers to help him boost his growth, he decides he’s tired of being the runt of the litter and signs on for a treatment program. Maybe that’s not the best idea, though, because it seems like one of the other boys getting treated is growing out of control, in every sense of the word.

Who’ll Love It: It’s not technical or scientific enough that people with no background will be lost, nor is it saturated in sports jargon so that you have to understand football to follow the action. Rather, it’s a story with fairly universal themes and a fairly wide appeal amongst horror fans (which, granted, is a fairly specialized genre to begin). Be prepared to marvel at the callousness of the sports clinic’s employees and the corporation running the town.

Themes for Thought: The Frankenstein medical-science theme is obvious – a classic cautionary tale about delving into science without enough respect for human life. But are there other cautionary tales here? Sports can be a deep obsession in North America, leading to physical and psychological injury for players and those who aren’t able to compete. (Consider the ever-expanding archetypal tale of popular athletes picking on the nerds and misfits.) And on a more literal level, think about all the stories in the news lately about athletes caught doctoring their bodies with performance-enhancing drugs. Perhaps the fictional medicine described in the novel is representative of ethical boundaries being breached in the sports world every day. Think about it . . .

Found Wanting

Cover art for "Found Wanting" by Robert Goddard

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction UK.

Title: Found Wanting

Author: Robert Goddard

Year of Publication: 2008

Genre Keywords: action/adventure, corporate thriller, corruption, espionage, explosions, financial thriller, friendship, politics, revenge, suspense, travel.

Summary: Richard Eusden has a dull and predictable civil servant’s life, until he discovers that his estranged best friend is dying. As part of Marty’s last wish, Eusden finds himself tracking a briefcase across Europe – a briefcase containing evidence that could prove or disprove the survival of Anastasia, daughter of Russia’s last tsar. Apparently, it’s information worth a large amount of money to the right people, even information worth killing for. He never intended it, but Eusden’s life is about to get a lot more interesting.

Who’ll Love It: Anybody with an affinity for stories of corporate wheeling and dealing. There are a lot of characters to keep straight and a lot of double-crossing, lying, and game-changing to track. The story reads like an action-packed film; be ready for high-speed travel, bullets flying, and explosive death scenes. Literally.

Bookshelf Cameo: Surprise! This isn’t the first time Found Wanting has appeared on this blog. It came up in passing when I talked about Book Crossing; it was the book my uncle-in-law’s girlfriend gave me that prompted me to reflect on how books get shared between reading fans.

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