Normalising the “ugly” to reduce food waste: Exploring the socialisations that form appearance preferences for fresh fruits and vegetables

Annesha Makhal, Kirsten Robertson, Maree Thyne, Miranda Mirosa

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Fruits and vegetables that fail to conform to an aesthetic standard are labelled suboptimal and are often devalued and ultimately discarded. Although consumers perceive suboptimal produce negatively, little is known about how these perceptions are formed and indeed the socialisation process behind them. Using 11 focus group discussions with New Zealand children aged 5–11 years (N = 97), this study explores these socialisations. The results show that family practises around growing and repurposing suboptimal produce, learning about suboptimal produce waste, and acting on that knowledge when making produce choices, facilitates the acceptance of suboptimal produce. Alternatively, observations of parents' produce choice behaviours, and parents' instructions or norms for choosing, preparing, and eating produce socialise the rejection of suboptimal produce. The implications of the study show how environmental sustainability with respect to the food waste problem could be effectively addressed if public policy moves towards strategies that “normalise” suboptimal produce. The interventions recommended show how public campaigns would be more effective by targeting children, who are not only concerned about environmental sustainability, but also through their growing agency and positive pester‐power may influence households to reconsider how food is valued.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1039
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
Volume20
Issue number5
Early online date16 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Makhal, A, Robertson, K, Thyne, M & Mirosa, M 2021, 'Normalising the “ugly” to reduce food waste: Exploring the socialisations that form appearance preferences for fresh fruits and vegetables', Journal of Consumer Behaviour, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 1025-1039., which has been published in final form at https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cb.1908. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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