Oregon Wasted Food Study: Measurement, Motivations and Opportunities to Waste Less Food

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Moreno, Laura; McDermott, Christa; Billings, Doc
Food waste -- Prevention -- Planning; Food waste -- Social aspects; Food waste -- Psychological aspects; Food waste -- Qualitative studies; Food Studies; Social Policy
report description
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality partnered with Portland State University’s Community Environmental Services to conduct a five-part study on wasted food generation in the State of Oregon. The main research objectives for this study are: Understand the informational, psychological, socio-economic, and structural drivers that contribute to the generation of preventable wasted food; Collect reliable data on wasted edible food, including loss reasons and reporting biases; and Provide the state, cities, counties, and consumer-facing businesses, such as grocery retailers and restaurants, with basic methods of establishing their own wasted food baselines and assessing shifts in waste prevention behaviors or levels of awareness. The first part of this larger effort is a qualitative study, consisting of open- ended interviews with 32 Oregon residents. This qualitative study was conducted at the start of the broader study in order to inform later tasks, specifically a statewide telephone survey, a residential tracking of wasted food using a kitchen diary method and waste audit, and case studies of the institutional, commercial, and industrial sector (ICI), especially the consumer-facing aspects of wasted food generation in this sector. The findings reported below will help shape survey content, illuminating new areas unexamined in previous surveys and highlighting important drivers that have been explored outside of the Oregon context that merit continued investigation here. Conclusions from each task will be used to improve the initial design of the subsequent tasks, resulting in a better-informed series of studies and analysis than had these tasks been conducted as stand-alone studies.Research objectives of this qualitative study include, identifying: Self-reported reasons for wasting food Barriers to reducing waste Engagement in alternative behaviors that may increase or reduce waste Underlying socio-economic, psychological, and structural factors that motivate wasting of food that emerge in an analysis of qualitative interviews.