Nowadays, food security is focused strongly attention by the whole world. There is no doubt that food can be regarded as material basis to promote economic growth, national security and social stability. With the rapid growth of population and limited land resources, food demands have not been satisfied by the agriculture supply. Moreover, food waste achieves an increasingly important part of food consumption. Therefore, in order to improve the situation of food waste, in terms of individual behaviors, it is a necessary process to understand the food waste in different groups of people. Due to the different characteristics between youth and the old, it is benefit to come up with significant solutions by analyzing that.
First of all, food waste is one of the crucial parts of food consumption. We can see that campaigns to reduce the astonishing levels of food waste generated moralize acts of both food saving and food disposal. Evans views the “waste” as a consequence of how something is disposed as opposed to an innate characteristic of certain objects (2011). From his research in some English households, food waste practices are structured to (1) feeding the family; (2) eating ‘properly’; (3) the materiality of ‘proper’ food; (4) anxieties surrounding food safety and storage. Thus, they can be regarded as productivity waste and consumption waste. Considering the situation of food waste is the precondition of waste reduction.
Consumption waste is the most serious section of food waste. Due to the life experience and behavioral habits, old people can be regarded as the group of people who have the most frugal consciousness. Comparing with eating outdoors, majority old people prefer to eat at home and cook for their families. This long-term eating habit can not only reduce food waste, but also be beneficial to keep eating healthy. Besides, the old focus strongly attention on quantity and date when they are purchasing food. Obviously, the suitable quantity of food can avoid food spoilage according to reasonable storage method. We can see that their life experience is the best method to reduce food waste. On the other hand, according to social investigations, as for old people, there are limitations in food selection. Undoubtedly, a great deal of single and unchanged food is harmful to nutritional intake. Because of the body sensitivity of old people, the ignorant of food with nutritional value can be regarded as one of the food waste practices.
On the contrary, there is dramatically more serious food waste of young people than that of the old. According to relevant researches, young people are the main crowd of eating outdoors, which include restaurants consumption, public canteens and takeaway. Obviously, it occurs food waste in those situations much easier than cook by us. Compared with the old, youth have the weaker public awareness of saving food when they do food consumption. Take the consumption habits for example, majority of youth will hardly ever consider that whether the quantity of food is excessive when eating with others. Moreover, they always choose left over or throw away the food rather than take away when it happens. Due to the economic growth and improvement of living standard, this consumption behavior becomes more common in public. Matt and Angela state “date labels can be understood as innovations to fill gaps of trust, responsibility and control in increasingly extended food production chains” (2013, p110). Young people prefer purchasing food in the supermarket to going to traditional markets. However, they are used to ignoring the date label of fresh food, this immature consuming behavior results in a large number of expired food. Considering the reason of the weak awareness of food conservation, I believe that it is related to the growth environment and education background.
The waste behavior and consumer attitudes of youth are formed during a long term. But the awareness of behavior can be changed by external factors. One of the objective factors of food waste is that there is less effective mechanism for restricting the waste form. Saving food resources should be not only the responsibility of citizens, but also the crucial objective of social maturation of modern management. Currently, food waste is strongly related to the four major social problems in the whole world (resources, environment, energy and health). Therefore, limit waste requires a range of social restraint mechanism and conditions for support. Undoubtedly, this mechanism is diseased in majority of developing countries. It is mainly focused in the following debates: (1) the lower prices of agricultural products; (2) the lack of waste punishing mechanism; (3) spending public funds without limitation, as well as a large quantity of food waste.
Therefore, efficient policies of governance can promote the improvement of young people’s consuming awareness, as well as their waste behaviors. A Chinese leader has emphasized that government took the lead conservation of resources, not only the priority task of constructing the conservation-oriented society, but also an important part of strengthening self-construction of the government. Thus, the improvement of relevant laws and regulations and supporting measures is the objective condition of restricting the food waste. It is reflected in increasing the constraints and punishments of food waste to curb the behavior of catering waste according to legislation. Take the tax for example, imposing high taxes for luxury food consumption is a good measure to encourage and guide people to moderate consumption. As for catering business, what we can learn from the Korean experience is that those who help customers in the packaged food and beverage initiatively can be given tax concessions by governments. Last but not least, public media plays a particularly crucial role on publicity and education of saving food; of cause it is the best way to draw attention to those still under the threat of starvation people. Overall, we need to be confident to improve the food waste practices.