A survey, run by the European institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), has highlighted that the spontaneous and varied food choices made by ‘Generation Z’ are contributing to food waste.
The food-funded project, ‘Cook Clever’, by EIT interviewed 18-25-year olds about their food habits. The survey identified that many of them experience fear of missing out (FOMO), impulsive food cravings and a feeling that they need to be trying new meals on a regular basis. The results also indicated that they weren’t keen on eating leftovers or having a strict meal plan.
“We’ve known for some time that household food waste needs to be reduced, in recent years we’ve seen growing number of initiatives such as community fridges and food sharing apps to try and tackle the issue which is a good first step, however these initiatives are not taking into account different age groups and their specific challenges when it comes to food,” said Dr Natalie Masento, an applied psychologist and lead researcher on the project from the University of Reading.
Findings from the survey suggest that lifestyle has a big impact on their cooking and routines, such as those at University sharing a kitchen, not having access to a car and having a demanding schedule makes it all the more difficult to plan and shop for meals and as a result they rely more on takeaways or impulsive dinner purchases.
“With Gen Z being framed as the sustainability generation we might have expected to see a greater level of engagement with in-home activism, such as trying to reduce food waste,” said Dr Lilly Da Gama, a food waste specialist and researcher on the project. “We can see from the discussions that there is some level of consciousness towards minimising food waste, however these results suggest that a host of personal desires, preferences and day-to-day issues are preventing a greater level of engagement with the issue.”
Dr Masento feels that the previous campaigns encouraging food planning and using up leftovers, have not had the best approach for Generation Z and therefore researchers are looking at new ways of targeting this age group and hoping to find new ways to tackle the issue.
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