Flickr/Leo Hidalgo

Waste

Instatrash: In this week’s installment of Blame the Millenial, a new report by British grocery chain Sainsbury’s suggests that social media is a driver of the increase in household food waste. Or at least that’s the headline the Independent conjured up. “Instagram-loving millenials are fuelling UK’s 7 million tonne food waste mountain,” the story reads.

What the study actually shows is that millenials are more likely to try new recipes with hard-to-reuse ingredients than older generations. A whopping 86 percent of the 5,000 people surveyed copped to buying special ingredients for specific recipes without a definite plan to reuse them.

A whopping 86 percent of the 5,000 people surveyed copped to buying special ingredients for specific recipes without a definite plan to reuse them.

But the survey doesn’t disclose how often those people say they buy extra ingredients, or how many of those foods are non-perishables like spices and vanilla. And while the write-up includes illustrations of an Instagram post, the survey didn’t actually ask participants about social media at all.  

As Food Navigator points out, Instagram has also been blamed for a rise in obesity in recent years using similar logic. In response to the Independent article, journalist Nick Hughes called blaming social media for food waste a “dead cat strategy,” referring to a political tactic that involves throwing a dead cat on a table to distract from the subject at hand.

Speaking of cats, no word yet on what role they may play in food waste. Stay tuned for a study on that.

H. Claire Brown

A North Carolina native, Claire Brown joins The New Food Economy after working on the editorial team at Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn. She won the New York Press Club's Nellie Bly Cub Reporter award in 2017. Follow her at @hclaire_brown.