New AAEA member research on how people react to real-life solutions

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates between 30 and 40 percent of the country’s food supply is wasted. In fact, in 2015, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the first-ever national food waste goal. His hope is to reduce food waste by 50 percent before 2030.

There are several efforts in place to curb food waste. For instance, composting and campaigns to show the impact of throwing food away. But are they working?

Danyi Qi and Brian Roe of The Ohio State University recently conducted an experiment in which people got free lunch in a cafeteria setting. They were given different information about if or how leftover food would be handled.

Roe, who leads the Ohio State Food Waste Collaborative, says this is a critical issue that “people can rally around, but there isn’t one set way to combat the problem.

        “(The country) is moving forward with a lot of good ways to reduce food waste,” Roe said, “but what ways are working in harmony and which are working in conflict?”

What happens when people know if food is being composted? How does guilt play a role in food waste? Those questions and more are analyzed in a paper by Qi and Roe. The paper is “Foodservice Composting Crowds out Consumer Food Waste Reduction Behavior in a Dining Experiment.”

They will present this research during an AAEA session at the Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA). It’s a 2017 Annual Meeting in Chicago, January 6-8. Do you want to set up an interview with the authors? If so, please contact Jay Saunders in the AAEA Business Office.


Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 20 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

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