Finding ways to fight the food waste epidemic

While there are many different efforts in place to curb food waste, researchers wonder if they are working.

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USDA estimates that between 30 and 40 percent of the country’s food supply is wasted.  In fact, in 2015 U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the first-ever national food waste goal; hoping to reduce food waste by 50 percent before 2030.

While there are many different 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 recently 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?”

These questions and more are analyzed in a research paper by Qi and Roe which will be presented during an Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) session at the Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) 2017 Annual Meeting in Chicago on January 6-8.

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