Making better use of what we have: Strategies to minimize food waste and resource inefficiency in Canada


  • Rod MacRae York University, Toronto, Ontario
  • Anne Siu
  • Marlee Kohn
  • Moira Matsubuchi-Shaw
  • Doug McCallum
  • Tania Hernandez Cervantes
  • Danielle Perreault



We examined the problems of and solutions to food waste through the main three frames of social science research on food waste: political economy; the cultural turn (the cultures, ideologies and politics of food and consumption); and political ecology. In the course of our collective research on food waste, we analyzed dozens of government and company documents, interviewed over 35 employees of food chain firms and organizations, including 9 middle to senior managers in food retail, and 2 farmers. One co-author, as part of this and affiliated work (McCallum, Campbell & MacRae, 2014), toured distribution facilities and stores of a major Canadian food retailer, had access to the Company’s head office staff, held group and one-on-one interviews with staff in a variety of capacities, and was granted access to confidential corporate reports. Another co-author volunteered with a food recovery organization and spoke with their operational staff.  Our method to identify solutions is described in more detail below, but essentially we follow a normative approach as broadly outlined by MacRae and Winfield (2016). 

Our focus in this paper is on changes to policies, programmes and legislation/regulation at the level of the state. Such interventions are clearly only a piece of a wide ranging set of initiatives to be undertaken by numerous actors – from food chain firms to individual eaters – but our reading is that more attention has recently been paid to private firm than regulatory changes. We hope to redress this to some degree in this article.

Author Biography

Rod MacRae, York University, Toronto, Ontario

Faculty of Environmental Studies




How to Cite

MacRae, R., Siu, A., Kohn, M., Matsubuchi-Shaw, M., McCallum, D., Hernandez Cervantes, T., & Perreault, D. (2016). Making better use of what we have: Strategies to minimize food waste and resource inefficiency in Canada. Canadian Food Studies La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 3(2), 145–215.