Food Wastage in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario
Urrutia Schroeder, Isabel Helena
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Much discussion on alleviating hunger and shaping more sustainable food production practices has focused on the production of food. More recently, an emerging body of literature has begun to focus on food wastage. Food wastage has direct and indirect environmental impacts, ranging from the unnecessary waste of inputs to produce food that will never be eaten, to the environmental impacts of the disposal of wasted food. In industrialized countries like Canada, an estimated 40 percent of food available for human consumption is discarded ¬– half of it from households. In spite of these numbers, only a handful of studies have begun to study food wastage in Canada. A better understanding of the mechanisms that drive up the food wastage levels in Canada is the first step needed to create targeted food wastage reduction strategies. This study aims to answer the question: What factors drive Canadian households to waste food? A combination of online surveys, case study household food wastage collections, and case study interviews are used to gain a better understanding of the behaviours and socio-economic factors that shape household food wastage in Canada. This study confirms many of the findings from other food waste research, but also emphasizes the role of food environments (e.g. retail environments and access to grocery stores) and environmental triggers (e.g. time constraints) in household food wastage. These findings highlight the complexity of the issue of food wastage, and the need for strategies that go beyond targeting household behaviours.