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Keywords:

  • food waste;
  • organization of uncertainty;
  • waste regimes;
  • risk;
  • scales

Abstract

This article utilizes the concept of waste regimes in order to understand the global connections involved in generating food waste. This concept treats waste as a social relationship and assumes that in any economy there is a waste circulation in addition to a value circulation, and that the two are interdependent. For this reason, the author critiques metaphors, such as value chains or supply chains, that have dominated the scholarship on food and agriculture. Creatively utilizing secondary empirical data on the Global North and South from that scholarship, the findings indicate that the unequal organization of uncertainty is a key structural determinant of food waste production in both. The relationship between risk and waste stretches across not only geographical but also scalar boundaries, revealing that solutions to the ‘food waste problem’ limited to technological innovation and a few sites or even countries will prove insufficient and will likely exacerbate existing inequalities.