Accepted Paper:

Waste becoming food: value questions, uneasy solutions, and policy possibilities in the surplus food system  


Megan Blake (Univeristy of Sheffield)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how values and affordances shape the ways in which surplus food travels and flows of surplus food from the commercial supply chain through a surplus-food supply chain and ideally into the stomachs of eaters.

Paper long abstract:

The Courtauld Commitment 2025 brings together a network of government agencies, business, local authorities, trade associations and charities with a key priority aimed at working toward redirecting edible food to people's forks before sending to landfill, using it as animal feed, or converting into compost or fuel. Through a qualitative network mapping methodology, this research investigates how the agreement is being implemented in the UK. While seemingly a relatively straightforward operation, the research reveals a complex network of organizational practices is emerging that incorporates a multitude of actors utilizing a variety of models aimed at enabling the exchange and use of surplus food—each with different material and social advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, debate within this emerging sector throws up questions concerning how best to facilitate flows of food in a way that embraces social values. Questions include concerns about which constituencies should be prioritized as recipients of surplus food, which specific foods should be incorporated, and which mechanisms are most effective for redirection in terms of societal benefit and for reducing food waste. While organisations are addressing these questions internally and collaboratively, the solutions and collaborations are not always straightforward or unproblematic. By highlighting sites of dis-ease, constraint and enablement, the research suggests new areas where innovative policy and practice arrangements may be developed.

Panel C28
Meetings over and around food