designer. researcher. educator.

Les Tray

Design Thinking for Food: How to reduce food waste

Les Tray Team: Sahoko Yui, Lianna Tilton, Ryan Tom, Zoe Desposito. Sahoko: prototype construction, food waste researcher, movie making, interviews, observational behavior mapping. Lianna Tilton: food scientist, safety and quality engineering, prototype construction, interviews, observational behavior mapping. Ryan Tom: food and culture expert, literature review, interviews, observational behavior mapping. Zoe Desposito: graphic design and illustration, prototype construction, interviews, observational behavior mapping.

Les Tray Team: Sahoko Yui, Lianna Tilton, Ryan Tom, Zoe Desposito. Sahoko: prototype construction, food waste researcher, movie making, interviews, observational behavior mapping. Lianna Tilton: food scientist, safety and quality engineering, prototype construction, interviews, observational behavior mapping. Ryan Tom: food and culture expert, literature review, interviews, observational behavior mapping. Zoe Desposito: graphic design and illustration, prototype construction, interviews, observational behavior mapping.

The Les Tray: why less is more

UC Davis wastes over 600lbs of edible food waste per year. And we know what you're thinking "Students waste food because they don't know or they don't care". While we believe this is true, we think that the solution to reducing food waste goes beyond teaching students about food waste or to value their food. In David Evan's book "Food Waste" he tells the story of a woman who goes to a café and gets food despite having more than enough at home. She does this for social reasons, to get out of the house and feel like a "part of the world".

Using Design Thinking tools and approaches learned in the course, my team and I investigated the various reasons why people waste food. We interviewed diners, chefs, directors, and outside experts and came up with a few themes. We found the following three themes: students respond very differently to new eating environments, students want variety of flavors and portions, and food waste is generally invisible in most dining settings.

Mainly, we found that wasting food is really easy. What if we made it less easy? We used Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein's "Nudge Theory" to come up with the Les Tray. We made a new plating system that encourages smaller portions by still having variety that feels like a complete meal (see image to the right). Smaller portions allow people to try a taste of several dishes and the smaller plate sizes give the illusion of larger food portions (Delbeouf Illusion). Therefore, this bento-box style plating system can lead to less consumption without sacrificing satisfaction.

See below for the video about the project.