13 June 2015

Cornell Food & Brand Lab, saving money, and open source academic journals

TreeHugger has an article about food waste. The article describes a recent academic paper done by Porpino, Parente & Wansink, "Food waste paradox: antecedents of food disposal in  low income households," Intern'l J. of Consumer Studies, 2015. Unfortunately, the journal article is behind the Wiley pay-wall. The first two authors are at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, Brazil, and the third author is at Cornell.

The TreeHugger article gets the summary right. Here's the Cornell summary. Have a look at them. But here's my take on it.

You can save money by doing bulk purchases only if you are sure you will use it all. You can save money by preparing smaller quantities, to ensure you can eat it all. You will save a lot of money by getting rid of your dogs and cats (okay, this is incendiary, hold your flames on this until I can write a fuller post, I'm just reporting my interpretation of the journal paper). You can save money if you conserve food more carefully - like closing that bread bag all the way, so it doesn't dry out.

My suggestion: drive down your food inventory to near zero occasionally, say, at least every 6 months. Eat what you have on hand. Empty out the fridge, empty out the cabinets and the pantry. Force yourself to eat up the weird stuff, the dried beans, the ancient packages of foreign noodles, that you've been ignoring. Imagine not needing to go to the grocery store for two weeks!  You'll save a ton of money, clean out the cupboards, and learn more about which foods you're actually going to use.

The TreeHugger article pointed me to the Cornell Food and Brand Lab site. Lots of great material there. In their short video, Porpino has sad eyes, as if he is unhappy about the food waste. I liked the video, and the cart-to-trash action makes the point well. Here's another interesting article by the Cornell Lab folk: whether you lose or gain weight depends on weekdays, not weekends.  Great stuff, great work. Whoa, Wansink has the same baggy eyes as Porpino!  They are obviously working overtime to bring us all this great research. Kudos, guys, keep it up.  But consider PLoS One for your next article - your lower-income Brazilian study subjects could then read it. In any case, I'll be coming back to your Lab website.

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