Finding Real-Life Solutions to the Food Waste Epidemic

November 22, 2017 11:14 AM
It’s estimated that 30% to 40% of the food Americans eat goes into the garbage. It’s a problem in so many ways, and the trend must change.

We are now in the biggest week of the year for eating in the United States. One estimate shows Americans will spend nearly three billion dollars on Thanksgiving dinner food in 2017.

But how much of that will end up in the garbage? The United Stated Department of Agriculture estimates between 30 and 40% of the country’s food supply is wasted. There are several efforts in place to curb food waste, including composting and campaigns to show the impact of throwing food away. But are they working?

Danyi Qi and Brian Roe of The Ohio State University conducted an experiment in which people got free lunch in a cafeteria setting and were given different information about if, or how, leftover food would be handled.

Roe, who leads the Ohio State Food Waste Collaborative, says this is a critical issue that “people can rally around, but there isn’t one set way to combat the problem.

“(The country) is moving forward with a lot of good ways to reduce food waste,” Roe said, “but what ways are working in harmony and which are working in conflict?”

What happens when people know if food is being composted? How does guilt play a role in food waste? Those questions and more are analyzed in a paper by Qi and Roe titled “Foodservice Composting Crowds out Consumer Food Waste Reduction Behavior in a Dining Experiment.”

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