Do you ever feel a pang of guilt when you throw food scraps in the trash? Do you hear your mother’s voice reminding you of starving children in far-flung corners of the globe? Have you ever thought you should be composting? What different sorts of choices have you thought you should make? Counseled others to make?

time waste.jpg

EconTalk guest, historian Rachel Laudan, argues that food waste has become a moral issue, and that’s the wrong way to frame it. Laudan’s conversation with host Russ Roberts tries to restructure the argument about food waste and make thinking about our food choices less “neurotic.”

Are you comfortable in our current (American) food culture, or do you agree that the system is broken?

1. Laudan says there is “a religious aspect” to the way people think about food choices. Roberts says it’s all lexicographical. What do they mean, and what do you think has brought this state of affairs about? To what extent do you think the moralization of food choices is permanent?2. What are some of the ironies Laudan notes in the debate over fresh food (or as Roberts dubs it, the war against processed foods)? To what extent is the current emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetable overblown…or even dangerous?

3. Watch this YouTube video about a dinner party hosted by a vegetarian. What makes this video ironic (or not)?

4. Is there anything from this week’s episode that has made you consider changing any aspect of your own behavior? If so, what (and how’s it going)?

5. What element or elements of our food system really are broken, and what would you suggest as (at least) a first step toward repair?