Which Generation Is Most Concerned About Food Waste?

The Lempert Report
March 29, 2019

A series of surprising finds from a recent poll.

The latest Michigan State University (MSU) Food Literacy and Engagement Poll, conducted Jan. 15-21, 2019, surveyed 2,090 Americans on their attitudes and knowledge of food issues. What they found was that the majority of all Americans (88 percent) say they take steps to reduce food waste at home. This includes 94 percent of consumers age 55 and older and 81 percent of those under 30 years old. What are they doing?

•Seventy-one percent said they try not to purchase excess food.

•Seventy-one percent said they often consume food before it spoils.

•Thirty-four percent share excess food when possible.

Then there is the other side: of the 12 percent of Americans who say they do not take steps to reduce food waste at home:

•Thirty-one percent say they do not waste food,yea right.

•Twenty-three percent are not familiar with the term "food waste,"yea right.

•Twenty-one percent do not know how to reduce food waste.Maybe.

•Twenty percent are not concerned about it.Wake up.

•Eighteen percent do not have the time. Seriously?

"Older Americans pay the closest attention to limiting food waste compared to their peers," said Sheril Kirshenbaum, co-director of the MSU Food Literacy and Engagement Poll. "Previous waves of the survey have revealed this group also performs best on general food literacy questions."

Forty-eight percent of Americans say they never, rarely, or aren't sure how often they consume genetically modified organisms, often called GMOs.

Forty-nine percent say they never or rarely seek information about where their food was grown or how it was produced.

Food literacy, I’m sad to say, is still at a low point. Perspectives on key food issues, and is designed to help inform national discussion, business planning and policy development.