People waste more meat/sugar when it's MORE expensive?

I half-remember from a sociology course years ago that studies of garbage showed that when the prices of meat and sugar are high, people waste more of it.

Do I remember right? Anyone know any theory why this is?

Wild ass guess:
Prices are high because of high demand.
Demand is high because people are using lots of the stuff.
Since a lot is in use, more is found in the garbage (and the same percentage is always wasted).

The theory as I understand it is:

  1. price goes up.
  2. people buy extra so that if price goes up further, they have saved money.
  3. unfortunately, they have bought more than they can use.
  4. excess goes bad. gets thrown out.

Except that, whilst meat can certainly go bad (hint to vegans: red meat isn’t bad for you; fuzzy green meat is), plain sugar can be kept indefinitely (OK, you may have to take an ice pick to it every year or so).
Do people thinkthat sugar goes bad? Do you they throw it away with the meat that they bought at the same time out of habit? Is throwing out a cup of sugar beneath the notice of sociologists when it’s cheap, but worthy of mention in a learned journal when it’s expensive?


“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

I am going on memory over ten years old, it’s possible that it was only meat and not sugar, in which case the “people buy extra and it spoils” theory hold up well.

Sugar can indeed get to the point when you have to throw it out: Let me introduce you to my pal the sugar ant.


Live a Lush Life
Da Chef