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Waste Matters: New Perspectives on Food and Society

Waste Matters: New Perspectives on Food and Society

ISBN: 978-1-118-39431-1

Jul 2013, Wiley-Blackwell

250 pages

Select type: Paperback


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This book offers the first framing of potential social science approaches to the compelling and yet hugely under-researched topic of food waste.  

  • Shows how the profile of waste has suddenly increased as a topic of sociological relevance and extends these developments to analyses of food
  • Conceptualises waste as a dynamic category and one that plays an important role in processes of cultural and economic organisation
  • Brings together theoretical and empirical contributions from a range of disciplinary perspectives
  • Engages with food waste in a number of contexts and at a variety of scales
  • Explores issues such as the regulation and governance of food systems; the materiality of foodstuffs and associated technologies; the dynamics of social practices and what goes on in domestic kitchens; the ways in which food and waste are circulated in societies; dumpster diving and freeganism, and socio-technical innovations for waste reduction
  • Demonstrates how food waste is a useful lens through which to tend to a number of contemporary issues within sociology and social theory

Acknowledgements ix

Series editor’s introduction 1
Chris Shilling

A brief pre-history of food waste and the social sciences 5
David Evans, Hugh Campbell and Anne Murcott

From risk to waste: global food waste regimes 27
Zsuzsa Gille

‘Waste? You mean by-products!’ From bio-waste management to agro-ecology in Italian winemaking and beyond 47
Anna Krzywoszynska

The performativity of food packaging: market devices, waste crisis and recycling 66
Gay Hawkins

Arbitors of waste: date labels, the consumer and knowing good, safe food 84
Richard Milne

Food, waste and safety: negotiating conflicting social anxieties into the practices of domestic provisioning 102
Matt Watson and Angela Meah

Practising thrift at dinnertime: mealtime leftovers, sacrifice and family membership 121
Benedetta Cappellini and Elizabeth Parsons

Food waste bins: bridging infrastructures and practices 135
Alan Metcalfe, Mark Riley, Stewart Barr, Terry Tudor, Guy Robinson and Steve Guilbert

Eating from the bin: salmon heads, waste and the markets that make them 156
Benjamin Coles and Lucius Hallett IV

Food waste in Australia: the freegan response 174
Ferne Edwards and Dave Mercer

A ‘lasting transformation’ of capitalist surplus: from food stocks to feedstocks 192
Martin O’Brien

The disposal of place: facing modernity in the kitchen-diner 212
Rolland Munro

Notes on contributors 232

Index 236

‘This collection not only evinces rising concerns about food waste in our world today, but also contributes to a deeper understanding of the cultural, political and economic dimensions of its occurrence. From the intimate space of the domestic kitchen to the realm of public policy—from the management of peelings, best-before dates and leftovers to the disposal of food industry by-products and food packaging—the contributors to this volume move beyond simple condemnations of ‘needless waste’ to shed new light on the many things that become ‘food waste’; on how various categories of people conceive of and interact with these things as they are produced, transformed and consumed; and on what ultimately becomes of food waste, whether conceptually or materially. In so doing, the contributors to this collection lay the foundation for a more comprehensive analysis of food waste, as well as for more robust critical engagement with the multitude of societal problems to which its production may give rise.’
Harry G. West, Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Food Studies Centre, SOAS, University of London

‘Food waste matters morally and politically, yet it has been conspicuously absent from academic concern. This excellent collection rectifies that omission. It provides a clear vindication that waste matters to studies of food and that sociology matters to thinking about food waste. Read it, and you will never think of food in quite the same way again.’
Professor Nicky Gregson, University of Durham

'Waste Matters draws our attention to crucially important issues that have been ignored by scholars for far too long. This sparkling collection is sure to become a foundational work for anyone working on the social side of sustainability.It provides a vital new perspective on the importance of waste at the crucial intersection of food, culture and the environment.'
Richard Wilk, Provost’s Professor of Anthropology and Food Studies, Indiana University