Food waste is a large -- and largely unmentioned -- problem in the United States. As much as 30 to 40 percent of the country’s food supply is wasted -- the equivalent of 20 pounds of food per person, per month.
Doug Rauch, the former president of supermarket chain Trader Joe’s is working to take a bite out of the issue of food waste by opening a new supermarket, Daily Table in Dorchester, Mass., this month.
At first glance, it doesn’t make much sense -- a new supermarket, filled with food, to cut down on wasted sustenance -- until you hear more about how the not-for-profit operation works.
Daily Table gets its groceries from other food suppliers who have excess inventory. Using volunteers to stock, sort, package or label food, the store offers the goods at a deep discount. Canned vegetables are two for $1, for example, and a dozen eggs cost 99 cents, NPR reports. Shoppers can also buy prepared meals for the price of fast food.
The catch, for those of you wondering when the other shoe would drop, is that the food has a shorter shelf-life than the ingredients you’d find at a traditional supermarket. The food is not expired, and Rauch is sure that the products are safe to eat. “If you have a product that says ‘sell by…. Oct. 1,’ and, you know, it's Oct. 2, most customers don't realize you can eat that. I think that the issue here is really how you talk about it and how you educate,” he said.
He’s is not the only one working to limit food waste. Last month, legislation in France made it illegal for supermarkets to throw away or destroy unsold food. Instead, the law says stores must donate the food to charities or turn the items into food for animals. It’s worth noting that the law was agreed upon unanimously.
If Dorchester residents are willing to sink their teeth into Daily Table, Rauch plans to expand into other communities.