Food sharing apps can play a role in solving economic and environmental challenges, according to a new study by Ben-Gurion Univeristy's Dr. Tamar Makov.
Makov and her team of researchers, including scientists from some of America's top universities like Harvard and Yale, analyzed data from more than 170,000 posts on the peer-to-peer food sharing app called OLIO finding that over 60% of food shared was collected.
"People were quite willing to accept food from strangers” said Makov, “and while sharing food is a longstanding practice, digital apps make sharing with strangers cheaper and easier, and therefore possible on a much larger scale than ever before.”
Food waste, such as a half-eaten dinner at a restaurant, is one of the leading contributors to green house gasses. An estimated 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted annually, a figure which represents 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. However, Makov and her team found that about 91 tons of food was saved by users using OLIO.
“While that number pales in comparison to the global total, these findings along with our environmental calculations indicate that food sharing can help fight climate change and the potential benefits of scaling up such activities," Makov said.
In the US and European Union alone, it's estimated that 30% of food goes to waste, which equates to about 10% of household expenditures per year.
"Altogether this represents an extraordinary waste of resources and money, not to mention the ethical travesty of wasting a full third of the global food harvest while one in nine humans on Earth suffers from chronic undernourishment," according to Makov.
Because most food typically has a short shelf life, it makes redistributing it hard, which is why the app helps in quickly matching supply with demand.
Baked goods represented 29% of the food shared, while kitchen and pantry staples followed at 17%. Fresh produce was close, at 16%, and prepared food represented only 13% of the food shared.