OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Differences between untouched and touched leftovers

Just because some foods are labeled as leftovers, it does not necessarily mean that they are half-eaten!

Photo of Rodney Lobo
7 2

Written by

Each time I have asked someone, if they are willing to take a slice from my "yesterday's" pizza, they (most times) immediately become ready to have it. This is very common when you are young, and do not have a lot of bucks to spend on half decent food.

How about, I tell them that there is leftover pizza from yesterday? Again, most times, they will not say "yes". And what if they see that when I show them my leftover pizza and there is only one slice with a bite mark on it? The answer is a big "NO!"

From the above two instances, there are two scenarios with the same leftover food, but the context of leftover is completely different.

This is not only for pizza (which is the most common and popular example for food that is leftover), but true for many other foods, substantially, raw plant-based food.

If people are aware that there is a clear difference between the two kinds of leftover foods, touched and untouched, it will be easier to to be able to share food with one another; especially with the people who are in dire need of it.




What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Creating awareness of the difference between partially consumed leftovers and untouched leftovers

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a Graduate student at NYU who is enthusiastic about the the OpenIDEO process. I am currently working on a project which helps NYU students to share food with one another

This inspired (1)

Start from scraps

7 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Emily Getty

Hello Rodney,
Why do you think it is that the word usage and positioning of the food causes certain reactions? Is it the idea of other people's germs? What is it that makes people turn up their nose?

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Rodney, great analysis of the linguistic associations with words. Great question Emily! My own guess at it would be that there is a negative connotation to the word "leftover".It  carries the negative connotation of the unwanted, the uneaten, the scraps. In French, we have a similar term which has I believe similar negative connotations. At home, when we do a leftover dinner, we often say we're doing a tapas dinner! :-)

Photo of Rodney Lobo

Hi Emily Getty 

I want to share an instance: While working on a prototype of my reducing food waste project, a student came and asked for some cranberries (which was given by another student). There were a lot of cranberries in the package, but he did not want them all. We gave him a zip-loc, so that he could take what he wanted. In some time, another group of students who were around at that time also wanted the cranberries and did not some of them already being taken away by the other student.

The above example might be a little crude, but I don't think that germs are the bigger issue.

We are expected to behave in certain ways due to societal pressure and one of them is not to accept leftover food, especially when in public. The other problem is choice -- what I prefer, might not be preferred by another person.
However, by creating awareness, we can educate people that sharing food with others is not all bad, or at least get people to be open to this idea

(Please pardon my late reply; I have been having poor internet connection since the past few days, but it is fixed now)

View all comments