Young people may be responsible for the most food waste in the UK, but there are deeper historical factors at play.
“Instagram generation is fuelling UK food waste mountain!” a headline screamed last month. Here we go again, with yet another world problem blamed on young people. This time, however, the results come from a study conducted by Sainsbury’s. The numbers are certainly distressing: Only 17 percent of under-35s said they “never waste food,” compared to two-fifths of people over 55.
The study says this is due to millennials’ "live to eat" attitude. Young people’s relationships with food tend to focus more on pleasure than on practicality or frugality. They splurge on exotic ingredients to make fancy dishes that look great on Instagram, but are difficult to reuse in other recipes. With so many dishes being prepared for the express purpose of posting online, more food ends up in the trash. Millennials don’t plan ahead; they don’t know how to use their own kitchens; they buy takeout a lot. The list goes on.
But if you’re part of that 17 percent of dedicated non-wasters, this announcement is incredibly irritating. After all, why are so many millennials this way? What has led to them becoming the lead food wasters?
Nell Frizzell attacks this question with eloquent ferocity in a Guardian article titled “Food waste is a scandal, but to blame it on millennials is nonsense.” She argues that the study’s findings do not get to the root of the problem, that to blame rampant waste on dinner photography is ridiculous.
“The real cause of food waste is a postwar, intensive farming and supermarket culture that has divorced us entirely from how food is made, grown, produced and should be eaten. I know lots of good people who… are unaware of droughts, haven’t heard about Britain’s dairy crisis, don’t care when the actual runner bean season is and simply want to pay less for the things they eat. Not because they are innately wasteful, but because the strip-lit aisles of supermarket