Home dining saves waste

People leave only 3 per cent of their food on their plates when they eat at home compared to 40 per cent when they eat a boxed lunch-type meal. Up to 40 per cent of food is wasted overall in America.

When people eat at home, they do not typically leave much on their plates – and that means less ends up in landfills, according to a statement on new research from The Ohio State University.

People who on average left 3 per cent of their food on their plates when choosing their own meals left almost 40 per cent behind when given a standard boxed-lunch type of meal.

According to study lead author Brian Roe, what we leave behind on our plates is the primary focus of efforts to reduce food waste.

He said: “This study allows us to go into the daily eating habits of adults and suggests that when people are choosing their own food, there’s not a lot left on their plate.”

“When you’re making your own plate, you’re taking no broccoli or a little broccoli depending on what you like, unlike in a school cafeteria where the broccoli is there whether you want it or not,” he added.

The study shows that it could be more important to concentrate on other conservation measures at home, including using up food before it spoils.

The researchers tracked food waste through pictures taken before and after meals. To compare plate waste in a controlled environment versus a home dining environment, they had participants dine twice in a lab setting.

Much of what was left after the meals was beverages – particularly soft drinks – and grain-based foods, such as hamburger buns.

“As much as 25 to 40 percent of food is wasted overall in the United States, and better understanding when, why and how is a key step in reducing that waste,” Roe said.

Roe and his colleagues are currently developing a phone app designed to track food waste.

Photo credit: towardsthesunset/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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