Published January 22, 2014
We’ve all heard about the massive food waste Americans incur every year.
'Sell-by', 'best-by' and 'use-by' dates are mostly unregulated and confusing for consumers when it comes to throwing items out --a factor that contributes to $165 billion of food wasted every year.
But the former president of Trader Joe's Doug Rauch says he’s got a solution.
In May, he’s launching The Daily Table, a grocery store and restaurant in Dorchester, Mass., that will offer inexpensive food considered 'unsellable' by regular grocery stores.
Food available will include fruits and vegetables that are expired and repurposed food that will be incorporated into hot meals. Other items for sale will be products that are fine to eat but may have damaged packaging.
“Most families know that they’re not giving their kids the nutrition they need. But they just can’t afford it, they don’t have an option,” Rauch recently told Salon.
His big idea: Make healthy food available for the working poor at the same price as fast food by using expired food.
A recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic says Americans are prematurely throwing out food, largely because of confusion over what expiration dates actually mean.
Dana Gunders with the Natural Resources Defense Council and co-author of the study, said that as much as 40 percent of food in the U.S. –or the equivalent of $165 billion-- is wasted, thrown away to fill our landfills after spoiling in the refrigerator or pantry.
Although Daily Table will be setup as a non-profit, it is a retail store, not a food bank or a soup kitchen.
Rauch is hardly the first to sell expired food or slightly damaged items deemed unsellable for cosmetic reasons. Discount supermarkets already offer many of the same items, but don't sell prepared food.
Yet, critics have accused Rauch of taking rich people’s food, repurposing it, and selling it to the poor, something he just shrugs off.
“I might say, without naming the names, one of the leading, best regarded brands in the large, national, food industry — they basically recover the food within their stores, cook it up and put it out on their hot trays the next day,” Rauch said in an 2013 interview with NPR. “That’s the stuff that we’re going to be talking about. We’re talking about taking and recovering food. Most of what we offer will be fruits and vegetables that have a use-by date on it that’ll be several days out.”
So would you go shopping at The Daily Table or think it's a good idea? Let us know what you think.