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.

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H. Claire Brown

Claire Brown joins The New Food Economy after working on the editorial team at Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn. Follow her at @hclaire_brown.