To eighty-five percent of the American population, an expiration date on Campbell’s soup is like a tornado warning, a blaring red signal that warns of the destruction it will leave in its wake, waiting to be thrown into the growing pile of garbage. However, to the other fifteen percent of people, food a few days past its “best by” date, is finally a chance to feed their families.
Former president of Trader Joes, Doug Rauch, has made the controversial decision to launch a grocery store. Not just any ordinary grocery store. A new type of grocery store that sells foods that are past their “best by” or “sell by” dates and labeled unsellable by other grocery stores. The prices of these products match those of fast food so that people who can’t afford produce or other grocery items at full price have an option to feed themselves and their families nutritious foods.
It is a fact that 40% of food in the country gets thrown out each year because of “sell by,” “best by,” or “use by” dates. According to WebMD, most foods are good for a few weeks after the “sell by” or “use by” date, which means that all the food that is being wasted is really unnecessary. Rather than let the working poor suffer from malnutrition and go to sleep hungry, Doug Rauch has come up with a solution which benefits everyone. Waste is greatly decreased and in turn, many people are given the chance to buy somewhat fresh produce and other goods at extremely low prices.
This new supermarket The Daily Table in Dorchester, Mass will be opening early this year. Rauch came up with the idea after learning about the Major food waste in the country. Rauch says, “It’s the idea about how to bring affordable nutrition to the underserved in our cities. It basically tries to utilize this 40 percent of this food that is wasted. This is, to a large degree, either excess, overstocked, wholesome food that’s thrown out by grocers, etc. … at the end of the day because of the sell-by dates.” This new store will also contain a restaurant which will cook hot and nutritious meals using the supposedly “unsellable” products. It has been proved that the dates on products such as “sell by” or “use by” actually represent when the food is at its peak freshness, not when to throw it in the garbage can.
A report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic states that Americans unreasonably throwing out because they don’t really know what the expiration dates mean. Because products don’t explicitly state an exact “expiration” date, consumers never really know when a product goes bad. WebMD defines the term expiration date as the last date a food should be eaten or used. This confusion results in the $165 billion worth of blatant food waste per year.
In 2010, the number of households that didn’t have access to proper nutritional foods was at 17.2 million, 14.5% or one in seven. This was a record high for the United States and fortunately, this number has since decreased. This is the ugly truth of the number of people who can’t afford proper food for their families.
It’s true, eating food past their specified dates could result in sickness or other minor health issues but would you rather starve from lack of food or have severe, long-term problems because the only thing you can afford is fatty junk food from McDonalds?
Thanks to Doug Rauch, people can afford vegetables, fruit, and other healthy foods at prices similar to that of fast food. All they have to do is shop a little past the date.