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Would You Buy Expired Food?

It’s hard to believe how food waste, which is responsible for tons of tossed out money, can occur in even the most conscious of households.

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers stated that as much as 30 to 50% of all food purchased is thrown out.

Doug Rauch has made it one of his goals to help cut down some of this waste. Previously president of Trader Joe’s, a specialty retail grocer, he is opening a new kind of grocery store in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Called the Daily Table, the concept is to sale items that may be listed as past their expiration dates but are still completely edible. Items for purchase will include fresh produce and prepared products.

Would You Buy Expired Food?

Image source: Bunnyhero on Flickr from npr.org

It will operate as a nonprofit and run much like a food bank with extremely low prices. It likely will not revolve around big brand names and will be relative in cost to that of a purchase from a fast food restaurant. In interview on National Public Radio, Rauch referred to the store as a hybrid – a cross between a market and a restaurant. He also called the process of making their prepared items speed-scratch cooking.

The inventory will include things that other restaurants or stores have passed up, thrown out or have donated, many with dates that are just 1 day expired and still completely safe to eat. However, the culture around the food label reading obsessed makes many of us not able to take that leap to consuming something that a piece of paper says we should not. Disengaging in this label induced rule is needed, according to Rauch, who takes issue with the process of listing dates and food labeling in the U.S.

The current labeling system creates enormous amounts of food waste, as reported by the Natural Resources Defense Council. And it is confusing, causing consumers to throw away perfectly good food.

Rauch also discussed in The New York Times how it was easier to eat junk food and fast food items as they are often much less expensive than healthy options like fresh fruits, and they are readily available and easily prepared.

The Daily Table concept is a sensible approach to eliminating food waste as well as high prices. And so the old adage applies here – waste not, want not. The idea could be something that will catch on, that is, if consumers can get past what their labels tell them to do and use their own judgment as well.

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