|Abstract or Summary
- People in the US and Europe eat the most meat worldwide, lose or waste about 20% of this product overall, and they waste the most food per capita. Food waste is currently addressed as an issue of volume, so programs and policies target foods that are wasted more by weight rather than foods that are more impactful when wasted in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, like meat. The US and Europe will be contributing more to climate change by volume of wasted food they produce if they continue to manage wasted food this way. This study sought to discover why meat waste is not a priority in the policy making process for food waste, how that may vary by culture, and if stakeholders intend to support policies that target more impactful food. The comparative analysis of Oregon and Emilia-Romagna using qualitative methodologies, employed semi-structured interviews with policy makers, public administrators and experts involved in food waste policies and programs. A content analysis of recent laws in each region were used to support data from the interviews and policy recommendations. The belief system, carnism, was used to explore cognitive biases in decision making about management of wasted food. Overall, there was little variation in the findings among the two cultures. Linking food waste, upstream impacts and emissions was presented as a shift in conceptualizing food waste in recent years. These stakeholders identify food waste as problematic both for social and environmental reasons.
Stakeholders’ intentions to support the idea of targeting meat waste was not influenced by their carnist ideology, but the value placed on meat and its cultural importance in both regions may inhibit actions in the future. Stakeholders in both regions should use evidence-based messaging to incentivize and inform consumers about meat waste as well as acknowledge and address their own biases toward meat foods.