• Marie Mikkelsen
Abstract
This Master’s Thesis is a contribution to the knowledge on attitudes towards household food waste. In this study, attitudes towards household food waste are analysed and discussed based on a qualitative study of 22 in-depth interviews and one focus group of five people. The interviewees ranged from age 23 to 59, these are then individuals in different life stages with a bias towards young adults and empty nesters. Included herein are 4 exploratory interviews with dumpster divers in order to enhance my understanding of the more alternative approaches to food waste. Food waste is a highly complex phenomenon and no single area of research can rationalize this phenomenon in its entirety, as a result this study draws on several different research areas in order to get as close as possible to exhaust this subject.
Some of the major themes found in this thesis were:
It was found that food waste is not always intentional. The interviewees did not like to waste food, however, as it is an action that is interconnected with other daily processes they often found it hard to avoid. One way of easing their conscience was to procrastinate food waste, to wait till the food had gone off and then discard it. Furthermore, the cheapness and availability of food weakens the need to build a plan for food so bad planning often led to more waste. However, if there was food planning it was often deprioritised compared to other daily chores, furthermore, fresh foods and variety were prioritised the highest and expensive products were prioritised over cheap products.
There was a difference in when the interviewees classified foods as rubbish, some followed the best before date and some used their senses. Some even discarded it before the best before date due to a decline in aesthetic qualities or in search of freshness and variety. Thus, if the food appearance was below somebody’s acceptable level of edibility, then intentional food wastage turned into a tolerable act. Additionally, some interviewees always used their leftovers as an active habit of anti waste while others did it to save time or money and some did not eat leftovers.
Furthermore, some food practices are undertaken more clear-cut front stage such as eating out while others take place partially front stage such as grocery shopping. But household food waste happens back stage. As it happens as a consequence of what goes on front stage, the more focus there is on activities front stage the more work there is backstage and thus more leftovers. These leftovers often get wasted.
Another theme found was that our relation to the production process of food has become minimal, thus leaving us disconnected from the food. When we invest ”psychic energy" in an object to which we have directed our efforts, time, and attention, making it a part of our self, thus wasting less food.
Furthermore it was found that external objects are viewed as part of self when we are able to exercise power or control over them. Thus if we have knowledge and skills on how to put together a good meal we feel a connection to it, it is a part of our self. Furthermore it seems the more knowledge and skills one have on cooking the less food one wastes. But it would be almost impossible to have knowledge on how to prepare every single food product we have access to today so naturally households that consume more of the same wastes less and some households’ tendency to be "occasional gourmets" might result in more food waste.
It was also discovered that there was an altruism-hedonism dichotomy in attitudes towards food waste. The altruistic households were recyclers in general, buying predominantly organic and hated food waste. Furthermore they used their senses to determine whether foods are edible or not. The hedonist households eat what they feel like, do not buy organic and do not try to avoid food waste. Furthermore they follow the best before date stringently or discard foods before this in a search for variety and freshness.
SprogEngelsk
Udgivelsesdato2012
Antal sider76
Udgivende institutionAAU
ID: 65708101