Trader Joe’s Ex-President To Sell Expired Food

Posted on September 22, 2013 by

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by Madeline Morris

Trader Joe’s Ex-President, Doug Rauch, plans to open an entirely new and revolutionary type of market–one stocked solely with expired food. 

The food, most of which will be only slightly past its sell-by date, will be sold at heavily discounted prices in underserved cities. Rauch hopes the affordable prices will encourage people to replace their five-dollar fast food with real, nutritious fruits and vegetables.

The first market will open early next year in Dorchester, Mass., and will offer prepared and repackaged food that gets thrown out, mostly due to confusing expiration dates. 

Many people see the sell-by date on produce as the be-all and end-all of food safety. So many, in fact, that about 40 percent of perfectly edible food gets thrown away each year in the United States.

Rauch is on a mission to stop this colossal waste, which yields nearly a billion dollar price tag for disposal every year. His quest is manifest in his project called the Daily Table. 

The idea is to save and repurpose some of that 40 percent of food–the equivalent of $165 billion each year– that would otherwise end up in a landfill, only to rot and emit methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas. The majority of the food makes its way to landfills due to the issue of expiration dates or, worse, because it doesn’t look exactly “right,” meaning that it has an odd size or shape, or a few bruises. 

When asked on NPR if he’s concerned about getting people to buy produce that’s past due, Rauch mentions that food banks have been doing the same thing for years. Many food auctions, salvage stores and “shelters” have also popped up as people become more aware of unnecessary food waste that could feed the poor and the starving. Not to mention the havoc wrecked on our environment.

But some say Rauch’s idea, while noble, is not original. Birch Bricker, in response to NPR’s article, said, “This idea has been around for a while. Check out ‘Food Not Bombs.’ It’s typical for a large company to steal a good idea from a smaller group.”

Food Not Bombs is a volunteer movement that gives free vegan meals to protest war, poverty, and surplus food that goes to waste. Curiously, Food Not Bombs was founded in Massachusetts, the same state Rauch plans to open his market. Food Not Bombs is a different concept than Rauch’s Daily Table, but both are out to solve the same problems of hunger and waste. Food Not Bombs collects unused food from grocery stores, bakeries, markets and local farmers. 

Freegans, on the other hand, get their food straight from dumpsters. Freegans are regarded as an anti-consumerist subculture that subsists only on salvaged goods. Also called “dumpster divers,” they go foraging for free food in dumpsters. Some of their finds are still in pristine condition, thrown away by supermarkets and restaurants because of approaching sell-by dates, or damaged packaging and cosmetic flaws. 

While Rauch’s Daily Table is not so extreme, at the end of the day, these movements represent innovative solutions that are being put forth to stop the careless squandering of food and teach citizens to make better food choices. 

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© 2013 US Food Safety Corporation. No copyright claim is made for portions of this blog and linked items that are works of the United States Government, state governments or third parties

Posted in: Family safety