Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


UC researcher looking at food consumption and wastage

UC researcher looking at food consumption and wastage

September 27, 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) anthropologist has been investigating the cultural economics of commercial food waste and Dumpster-diving.

Dr David Boarder Giles has worked with Dumpster-divers and the food recovery group Food Not Bombs in a bid to reduce waste and hunger in Seattle, Washington, and several other cities.

Up to a third of the food produced globally is wasted, he says, and most of this waste occurs in industrialised nations. In the United States, for example, over a quarter of all the food produced is discarded before it has spoiled.

``I've already been in touch with Food Not Bombs members, Dumpster-divers and other food activists in Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin, who seem to be describing much the same situation as I found in Seattle in terms of waste. I'll be doing more research about this in the coming months,” he says.

Most waste is produced by consumers, whose rate of food waste has increased progressively over the last three decades. But, in addition, a significant amount is wasted by retailers.

This is not because there is no market for the food. Almost 15 percent of American households have inadequate access to food. Rather, Dr Giles’ research has found that the market economy is based on significant inefficiency and waste.

``My work has investigated cultural factors that determine the economic value of things—especially food,’’ he says.

``Consumers often relate to food primarily not as a resource but as a commodity. Commercial dumpsters are full of food which is still perfectly edible, but which cannot be sold for a set price: cartons containing eleven perfect eggs and one cracked one; day-old loaves of bread; slightly bruised fruit; pre-packaged items that are too close to their best-by date.

``Consumers often purchase groceries and other goods based on aesthetics rather than nutrition or taste. Sell-by dates contribute to a significant amount of food waste: while these dates are usually very conservative estimates, customers often lack the specialised skills and knowledge used by previous generations to judge the quality and safety of their food themselves, and so come to rely on these dates.

``Retailers often opt to turn over their shelves more quickly, rather than to sell old stock at a discount. To the extent that customers are willing to pay a significant premium for newer, more expensive goods, it may often be more profitable to simply throw older goods away than to minimise waste.

``Dumpster-divers are recovering commercial food waste and redistributing it. These efforts vary widely, with formal charities often obliged to redistribute the waste in places that don’t disrupt local commercial interests, keeping hungry people and wasted food segregated from the mainstream economic activity which produces the waste in the first place,’’ Dr Giles says.


Dr David Giles

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Anniversaries: Vivid Memories Four Years After Christchurch Quake

Four years ago, an earthquake that would change the lives of thousands shook Christchurch at 12.51 p.m. More>>

ALSO:

Environment 'n' Conservation: Slash Meets Tāne The Tuatara

Rock and Roll superstar and former Guns 'n' Roses guitarist Slash visited Zealandia Ecosanctuary along with collaborating band Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. More>>

Foo Fighters: Exclusive Show In Support Of Music Foundation

Frontier Touring has today announced that the Foo Fighters will play a last minute intimate and exclusive benefit show at the Auckland Town Hall this Friday February 20 with all profits going to The New Zealand Music Foundation. More>>

ALSO:

Canterbury Quakes: Feedback Sought On Short-Listed Memorial Designs

Six short-listed designs for the Canterbury Earthquake Memorial have been released for public input... The Memorial will honour the victims of Canterbury’s earthquakes and acknowledge the suffering of all those who lived through them as well as the heroism of those who participated in the rescue and recovery operations. More>>

ALSO:

Celia Lashlie: Legacy Will Live On

Social justice advocate Celia Lashlie leaves a legacy that will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of New Zealanders for years to come, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Celia was a powerful voice for reason, sense and compassion. Her work, particularly with teenage boys, was ground-breaking." More>>

ALSO:

Obituary: Sad Farewell To PPTA Activist Robin Duff

Duff has been a long-time fixture of the association... Most recently Duff has been working hard to support Canterbury teachers through the quakes that devastated the region. More>>

ALSO:

Poroporoaki: Dr Apirana Tuahae Kaukapakapa Mahuika

Papa Api was a man of many great gifts and occupied a long list of roles including priest, teacher, scholar, politician, and leader. Chair of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, and a rangatira of his iwi... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news