Millennials seem to be responsible for a new development in eating in the United States. A report from the United States Census Bureau and USDA, with the data compiled by Quartz, found that for the first time, Americans are eating out at bars and restaurants more often than they are shopping at grocery stores to make meals at home (No one cooks anymore – Quartz). Spending at bars and restaurants reached $54.857 billion, while grocery expenses lagged behind at $52.503 billion. Explanations for these findings range from grocery stores having to compete to offer the lowest prices, to women participating more in the labor force in areas outside of domestic labor, to millennials possessing so many options to eat away from home with their smart phones. Time is of the essence, and the younger generation does not have the time to cook at home, nor do they schedule in advance what they will eat at home when they do buy groceries. This can potentially be damaging for physical health, as meals at bars and restaurants tend to serve larger portions and are very high in sodium and fats.
This lack of scheduling is leading to a surge in food waste, which is increasingly becoming a global health issue. In a 2016 Food and Farming Report conducted in Australia by the RaboDirect Bank, $10 billion AUD worth of food was wasted, mirroring similar findings from a different study analyzing British food habits where many in the sample exhibited wasteful behaviors and depended on convenience when getting food (Millennials Wasting Food in Australia). Much of the waste came from those aged 18-34, who throw away up to 20% of weekly food expenses. Will poor food waste behaviors combined with an economic shift towards dining at your local establishments have consequences in the future? Or will education on these developments be enough to increase awareness on food waste and improve behaviors toward managing food habits?
Tristram Stuart, a food activist, decided to take matters in his own hands and just this year has developed a beer made from leftover bread – especially the end pieces of loaves that are usually thrown away by large food supply chains that sell pre-packaged sandwiches (Beer From Leftover Bread Can Help Global Food Waste). He puts all of the profit he makes back into his charity, Feedback, which helps manage global food waste and finds new methods in fixing it. This is what he had to say about the process when he took his creation to a beer sommelier for a review that went better than he expected:
“And it was that moment when I thought we haven’t just got a cool food waste solution, but we’ve got a really great beer that’s a contribution to the brewing world—bingo!”
Tristram is hoping that his idea will create a movement of people with various backgrounds to participate and help discover new ways to end global food waste. What’s great about his bread beer is that there are “infinite permeations of what he can do,” and he hopes that by partnering local bakeries with surrounding breweries, the initiative will strongly continue abroad. Hopefully, for everyone’s sake, it does. Way to go Tristram.