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Food Waste: It's Getting Personal

Shameful selfies to empathize with food waste.

Photo of Katie Wilhoit
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For a week, I decided to capture some of the food I wasted as a visual with a "Food Waste Journal." Before long, I realized I had stumbled onto something. Each time I took a selfie, I was confronting my food waste one v. one. Taking a selfie with my lost food was personal. Looking into the camera was like looking into the wasted food's soul. What did you do to deserve this? Why did I let this happen? What will happen to you? It's like telling a little kid you're too busy - they were just trying to be with you. I realized in each photo, my appetite drove my food purchasing. Greedy for food, I took too much or, in some cases, was given too much. Food waste was a result of not having the right portion, and of not being mindful of how hungry I actually was. Taking selfies with my food waste showed me that meals must be mindfully planned for, and the sadness that exists when it is not. It also showed me that sadness is not the only option…

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

Eat with your stomach not with your eyes: Be more mindful of what you put on your plate or what you buy. And if it's too much (which often happens in the U.S.), think about a plan B. Take it home? Plant seeds? Compost? How do you navigate a "too much" culture? Plan for the End: The end of your food's life doesn't have to be a dark one. How can you celebrate the old? Can you recycle to make new?

Tell us about your work experience:

I work at the Food + Future coLAB (Target, IDEO & MIT Media Lab) where we design ventures around food transparency. I'm also an undergrad at Northeastern University.

This post emerged from:

  • A Kitchen Diary

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Photo of Anne Wilhoit

We all need to be more mindful of the food we waste. I would be appalled, I'm sure, to see selfies with my own food waste.