No, It Really Isn’t Heartbreaking

Looks-don-t-matter-UN-calls-for-alternative-use-of-ugly-produce

Thinkprogress posted this story to Facebook, stating that it is heartbreaking that it has to exist:

A small town outside Pittsburgh is getting a new, unusual grocery shopping option. Denise Marte is opening a store that will sell dented cans, bent boxes, and expired packages of food and other necessities at cut-rate prices in Rural Valley, PA.

Marte Mart is the latest entrant into a business category known as food salvage stores. The stores buy damaged goods that traditional retailers refuse, and they are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration like any other food provider. With prices of staple foods rising and the slow recovery from the recession leaving food budgets tight for millions, the stores have found success in other parts of the country, and Marte’s will bring the idea to Armstrong County.

That’s not heartbreaking, that’s awesome!

We have so much food wasted in this country that this is something that every city needs a few of:

The sheer volume of food wasted in the U.S. each year should cause us some shame, given how many people are hungry both in our own backyard and abroad.

Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided us with a way to understand our flagrant annual waste in terms of calories, too. It’s pretty mind-boggling — 141 trillion calories down the drain, so to speak, or 1,249 calories per capita per day.

And if we could actually reduce this staggering quantity of food waste, the price of food worldwide might go down, according to a report from researchers at USDA’s Economic Research Service, Jean Buzby, Hodan Wells and Jeffrey Hyman.

To come up with these estimates of all the food that was harvested but never eaten, the team crunched the latest available data from 2010. This “lost” food encompasses all of the edible food available for consumption — including food that spoils or gets contaminated by mold or pests. It also includes the food that’s “wasted” — i.e. food discarded by retailers because it’s blemished, and the food left on our plates.

All told, 133 billion pounds of food was lost in 2010 — that’s 31 percent of the total food supply. And it was worth about $161.6 billion.

Many of those sell-by dates are just recommendations, and usually bad ones:

Pick up a gallon of milk or a carton of eggs and it will probably have a “sell-by” or “best-by” label. But what does that date actually mean? It’s unclear! The date can signify different things in different states. And many items stay fresh long after the expiration date passes.

But when does it all go bad?

In fact, the whole labeling system is a total mess, argues a new report (pdf) from the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic. Date labels are often so inscrutable and differ so widely from state to state that they’re essentially worthless as information. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a whole page straining to make sense of the whole muddle and does a good job explaining how long various foods will last.)

Another good link here on sell-by dates. I’m one of the people who, unless I am buying Chambers steaks (cut fresh in front of me by my local butcher), always buy all my meat from the manager’s specials and marked down category. Just throw it in the freezer and it will be fine.

And with produce, you would be shocked to learn how much is just wasted because it doesn’t look pretty or has a bruise or nick in it, etc. It’s still good food. No one cares how pretty an apple is in an apple pie, or sliced up, etc. Recently, a store in France has begun to highlight just this:

Customers rarely see imperfect fruit and vegetables—the bent cucumber, the two-legged carrot, even the heart-shaped potato—because they are tossed away long before they reach supermarket shelves. But this year, French supermarket chain, Intermarché, decided to feature these so-called ugly fruits and vegetables in their stores (in an effort to reduce food waste).

The campaign, Quoi ma gueule? (What’s wrong with my face?), was promoted over a two-day test period in March in Intermarché stores—France’s third largest supermarket chain—in the north-central town of Provins.

Each year, approximately one third of total food produced for human consumption, is wasted. The UN Environment Programme estimates the amount of food lost or wasted is equivalent to over half of the annual global production of cereals crops.

Intermarché gave the ugly vegetables their own catwalk—a dedicated area with their own labeling in the supermarket. The broader advertising campaign, Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables, starred Clementine, the unfortunate mandarin, who informed consumers that her imperfections were “actually quite cute.”

I wouldn’t buy seafood past the expiration, but around here, all the seafood is mainly frozen anyway. If something is past the sell buy or markdown date, it is store incompetence in that they put it on display in too great a quantity, etc.

Additionally, it takes a ridiculous amount of oil (and the ensuing environmental damage) to raise a steer, to get crops to market, etc.:

Three quarters of a gallon of oil to produce a pound of beef. At $4.00 per gallon, this implies the cost of a pound of beef includes $3.00 worth of oil. In reality, the oil is used for illustrative purposes only. The energy in the food systems comes from many sources, such as natural gas for fertilizer and drying grains, and the electric grid for almost everything. Broadly, however, industrial energy sources tend to have correlated prices and oil is considered the lynch pin since it is involved in the transportation of all goods, including energy inputs. Given the heavy use of oil in the food system wouldn’t you expect oil and food prices to correlate? Well they certainly do.

And they aren’t feeding the steer oil- it’s used to run the machinery that feeds them, tills the land, grows the crops, picks the crops, ships the crops and the meat, run the power plants that generate the electricity to keep them cold, and the oil is used to make the packaging the beef is in. That, in turn, leads to environmental damage and climate changing emissions:

If the amount of food the world wastes was a country, it would be topped only by China and the U.S. in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new UN report.

The report, published Wednesday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, found each year about a third of the food produced for human consumption worldwide — about 1.3 billion metric tons — is wasted, a practice which emits the equivalent of about 3.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases. That’s about twice the amount of carbon emitted from the U.S.’s transportation sector and close to twice the yearly emissions of India. That wasted food also wastes water — the report states that about 250 cubic kilometers of ground and surface water is used each year to produce food that is ultimately wasted, an amount about three times the volume of Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

So no, ThinkProgress, this is not heartbreaking. This is AWESOME. We should have these in every city, particularly for areas that are food deserts, and we would be doing a world of good. Less waste, more disposable income to be invested or spent in other parts of the country, fewer emissions and less fossil fuel use, exposing people who have only been able to shop in bodegas with prepackaged crap to healthier food options, and so much more. I wish there was one around here- I’d shop there every time I went to the grocery. I’d be getting the same quality of food for a better price, which means more money for me to spend on video games or other things I enjoy.

The only thing heartbreaking about this development is the stigma ThinkProgress is unwittingly attaching to it by saying it is heartbreaking, as if only poor people should eat ugly produce. Not to mention, anyone who lives near an apple orchard will tell you that pretty apples have been bred to be pretty, and taste nowhere near as good as the local apples, warts and all. Just look at what has been done to Red Delicious apples over the decades, where it became more important to marketers that they be Red, and the Delicious became an afterthought. Maybe this is a rural v. urban thing, where urban dwellers don’t really know where their food comes from- have you ever taken someone to a slaughterhouse for the first time? I remember visiting one in Germany to see how the sausage is made, so to speak, and I had several friends who swore off meat forever. I guess they thought they were just convincing the animals to kill themselves so they could be eaten. Beats me.

TL;DR- MORE OF THIS KIND OF STORE, PLEASE.

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75 replies
  1. 1
    shelley says:

    Wax apples have more flavor than today’s Red Delicious. And Macintosh ain’t far behind.

  2. 2
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    I think your take on this is absolutely correct, including the bit about Thinkprogress accidentally stigmatizing a good thing.

  3. 3
    piratedan says:

    ty for this John, this is the kind of stuff that has always sat in the back of my mind but rarely surfaces. Gonna share this on facebook with my fellow archaic social media cohorts. Awareness is not a bad thing and being smarter about how we use what we create is never a bad concept imho.

  4. 4
    wmd says:

    During my first stint in grad school I got a lot of discarded/cosmetically challenged food via dumpster diving. I had a sister with two young children that also was in college that went with me on some expeditions, we were really happy to get a crate of frost kissed artichokes on one occasion, and always came home with boxes of produce with slight blemishes.

    Any produce that wasn’t edible turned into compost for my vegetable garden.

    Dumpsters are locked up now. I still turn food that has gone bad due to poor planning on my part for compost though – actually I get double duty as my chickens will eat it and turn it into eggs as well as fertilizer.

  5. 5
    karl says:

    YES! I used to shop at such places, the best of which disappeared in the 90s. It’s about time they came back.

  6. 6
    beth says:

    My parents lived poor through the Depression – they used teabags two or three times, served leftovers in many different ways at every meal until they were used up and almost never threw food out. It had to practically have maggots crawling out of it before they’d toss it. As a result, I’ve always relied on my nose and eyes to tell me if food is good or not and I’ve managed to make it over 50 years without killing myself. My husband, who grew up in a much wealthier family, and my kid won’t even look at any kind of food that’s past the date on the package. They drive me crazy. I would shop at one of those stores but no one in my house would eat it. The stigma is unbelievable.

  7. 7
    Elizabelle says:

    First thought on seeing your photo illustration: oh, he’s going for erotic art with vegetables.

    Look at it.

  8. 8
    grandpa john says:

    We have one of those here. a young Mennonite guy started it some times back, His is called dented deals although much of it is not dented.
    It also has bread, coffee, and frozen bags of chicken , Fish, and lots of other things . most of the canned stuff is half price or less, out of date Pepperidge farm bread products are 99 cents, progresso soup is 99 cent a can as compared to 2.50 at the reg store. and they take food stamps
    so it has become a popular shopping spot for us old or poor folks

  9. 9
    gussie says:

    The thing itself is good. The fact that it ‘it has to exist’ is not. Like, say, firefighters or rape crisis centers.

  10. 10
    wmd says:

    Some of the blemished food is taken up by food banks and distributed. The articles don’t pick up on that. But it’s a drop in the ocean.

  11. 11
    Elizabelle says:

    Smutty mind aside, this is a great idea. Would like to see more of it.

  12. 12
    grandpa john says:

    We have one of those here. a young Mennonite guy started it some times back, His is called dented deals although much of it is not dented.
    It also has bread, coffee, and frozen bags of chicken , Fish, and lots of other things . most of the canned stuff is half price or less, out of date Pepperidge farm bread products are 99 cents and they take food stamps
    so it has become a popular shopping spot for us old or poor folks

  13. 13
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Those are some genuine Tom of Finland carrots.

  14. 14
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Elizabelle:
    I had that same first thought. Y’know, there must be some culinary artist out there who could turn this sort of produce into really, um, interesting fruit and veggie carvings.

  15. 15
    Steve from Antioch says:

    @gussie:
    Exactly.

  16. 16
    SatanicPanic says:

    Your are absolutely right John.

  17. 17
    bargal20 says:

    These kinds of stores are common here in Melbourne, Australia. I buy from them a lot. Also, it’s been years since I’ve bought meat or chicken from a supermarket that didn’t have a “quick sale” label on it and at least a 40% price reduction.

    Think Progress is sickeningly falling for the system’s reliance on aspirational shopping.

  18. 18
    Mnemosyne says:

    I do worry about canned goods — sometimes a bulge can be misinterpreted as a dent, and now you get to deal with a bout of botulism. But ugly produce shouldn’t make any difference — if you chop up those three-legged carrots (perhaps while thinking about street harassment?) and put them into a stew, soup, or stir-fry, they’re going to taste the same as an aesthetically pleasing carrot.

  19. 19
    Citizen_X says:

    Seriously, well done, JC. Nice compilation of related posts.

  20. 20
    Hank says:

    My favorite part of my local Safeway is the 50% off shelf where the keep the dented cans and boxed things that have felt the wrath of the box cutter. If I happen to have right coupon sometimes they pay me to take the stuff out of the store.

  21. 21
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    There’s been a gradual post-WW2 drift in America towards laboratory food and laboratory-effect supermarkets, so anything that shows any sign that it came out of the ground or from an animal is horrific against the white surfaces and bright lights. We had bags and bags of apples from our tree this year, most of them oddly shaped, some with blemishes and russetting, and very few people wanted them.

    (Of course, the biggest food poisoning scares come from factory-packed food.)

    I do a lot of my shopping at salvage or closeout groceries. Occasionally, you get something that’s obviously gone the journey and goes into the bin, but there are plenty of times where it’s just a problem with packaging — a promo on the box expired, not the contents — or a retailer went out of business and offloaded its stock. You also get to see some whacky things that never show up again.

  22. 22
    El Caganer says:

    Right on target. I work for a food bank, and everything you’re saying is dead on. There are a lot of places to get good info on hunger and food security issues; two of the most comprehensive are the websites of Feeding America and FRAC. (OK, enough pimping my cause.)

  23. 23
    big ole hound says:

    Nice JC. An aside. The drought in CA may make it more feasible for some of that subsidized ethanol corn grown in the upper/central midwest to be supplanted with veggies. That would also take the crops to where the water is instead of drilling for it and causing further water scarcity. Just a thought.

  24. 24
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Bottled water has an expiry date on it because of some weird obscure New Jersey law that requires that all comestibles be stamped with an expire date, and the legally mandated limit is two years. Same with Twinkies.

    Bottled water does not expire unless the container is breached. I’m sure Twinkies do at some point, but it’s a lot longer than the date stamped on the package.

    Same with most prescription drugs, BTW. The US Army did a study a while back. Most drugs don’t start losing serious effectiveness until they’re at least five years old, provided they’re stored in a temperature and humidity stable environment. However, if for some reason this is important to you, you should check. The study’s online in quite a few places.

    We throw way too much away.

  25. 25
    Howard Beale IV says:

    That’s why everyone should have a small standalone freezer and a vacuum sealer-you’d cut down on waste for perishables. And if you do have too much stuff, the local food recyclers will take the foodstuffs off your hands, stick them in an oven, cook them for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, and take them out to the farm and feed them to the pigs.

  26. 26
    d58826 says:

    OT but the legal clown show in Maine continues. According to the Gov. Ms. Hickox is getting on his nerves. To which I say give her a medal. He also said that the state police escort for the bike ride was to protect HER from some unnamed menace. Almost sounds like he is suggesting someone take a shot at her. It’s the know-nothing politicians who are stoking the public fears.

    In the meantime in court the state is claiming that they believe Ms. Hickox’s roommate in Africa may have tested positive for Ebola. Now this is a new one but can’t the state be a bit more precise then ‘we believe’ and ‘maybe’. Since the state apparently admits that the roommate is past the 21 day limit than what’s the point in all of this (I know stoke the fear).

    The judge ruled the nurse should continue daily monitoring, co-ordinate travel plans with the state but her movement can’t be restricted because she is not infectious.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Exqueeze me, but profit is the only thing that is important. The health of consumers is irrelevant. The quality of the product that is sold is irrelevant. Profit is all that matters.

    This message brought to you by the Ferengi asshats who claim to revere Adam Smith, but have never cracked open, much less read, The Wealth of Nations.

  28. 28
    Jewish Steel says:

    There was a place in Fox River Grove IL my parents used to shop at. I think it was called The Bargain Hut. Same idea. Dented boxes, stuff salvaged from fires. This was in the early 70’s.

  29. 29
    shelley says:

    I’m sure Twinkies do at some point, but it’s a lot longer

    I thought Homer Simpson found out if you age Twinkies for ten years they turn into liquor

  30. 30
  31. 31
    SamInWa says:

    Watch out for dented cans… botulism is an anaerobic bacteria.

    The chance is low, but the consequences is high and even a small amount can cause serious harm.

    And I always peruse the “managers special” section in the meat department.

  32. 32
    Aunt Kathy says:

    Yep, produce clearance is my new favorite thing. Just got back from the store with a 2-3 LB bag of ugly little potatoes, 79 cents.
    Last week was 38 cents for a big bag of greenish-reddish apples (who cares what variety), with which I’ll make this thing this weekend. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully.

    http://smittenkitchen.com/blog.....sharlotka/

  33. 33
    Avery Greynold says:

    Quibbling on the math: Oil at “$4.00 per gallon” A barrel of oil has 42 gallons. Means oil price of $168 / barrel. It has never been this high, and is currently half of that. A good argument doesn’t need bad math.

  34. 34
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Avery Greynold:
    I’m a bit confused here. Can you really divide the price per barrel of crude oil by 42 and get the retail price per gallon of gasoline?

  35. 35
    Botsplainer says:

    I hate old rural white Authentic Americans. We coddle them and pretend they’re fucking wise. We give their uninformed positions, theories and beliefs currency and smile patiently on their parochialism as real heartland authenticity.

    I can’t get this goddamned mook and his spit-flecked outraged opinions off the line.

    Bring on the FEMA camps. Burn Confederate flags. Tear down their churches, melt their guns. Burn their bibles.

  36. 36
    Gravenstone says:

    Shit, we had one of those salvage stores in NW Ohio when I was a kid in the late 70’s. And that didn’t include the day old bakery shop from the local plant for our regional bakery (Nickles). You’re absolutely right that they’re a great way to help folks make ends meet as well as an outlet for goods that otherwise would simply be discarded.

  37. 37
    artem1s says:

    I always buy all my meat from the manager’s specials and marked down category. Just throw it in the freezer and it will be fine.

    I wouldn’t do that with pork. It goes bad insanely fast. OTH beef pretty much is better the older it is.

    dented cans not so much of a problem; BULGING cans, throw them away.

  38. 38
    chopper says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    No. There is a general ratio of the price of crude per barrel to the wholesale cost of gasoline per gallon, with the hilarious title ‘crack spread’. Usually runs about in the thirties.

  39. 39
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Avery Greynold: Checked the price of diesel/#2 fuel oil in the US recently? It has only gotten reliably under $4/gal in the last month or so. The price of crude is, of course, lower than the price of refined product.

  40. 40
    Steve from Antioch says:

    @Botsplainer:

    I’ll have what s/he’s having!

  41. 41
    Jack the Second says:

    Not to get all Freud, but does anyone else see penises (or more accurately, legs with various misshapen penises between them) when looking at those carrots?

  42. 42
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Amir Khalid: Yeah, as I pointed out, the “$4/gal” was almost certainly referring to the retail price of diesel fuel (often referred to in the US as generic “oil”.) That’s been near or over $4/gal for a couple of years now, only recently dropping. It’s the same fuel, literally, that is used to heat homes in much of the northeast US, and in lots of generating stations, under its alternate name of “#2 fuel oil.” (I use at least 1,000 gallons per winter, so I’m very aware of the price.)

  43. 43
    C.V. Danes says:

    Remind me again why we have still have farm subsidies?

  44. 44
    La Gata Gris says:

    In our grocery store, fresh fish that has hit the ‘sell by’ date is marked half off. Now, fish can rapidly get that off putting ‘fishy’ smell even tho’ the meat is still safe to eat. Trick I learned – take the ‘fishy’ smelling fish, put it in a container with milk (not skim; maybe 2%) for at least half an hour. Rinse it. THe fat in the milk takes away the ‘fishiness’. Cooks up just fine.

  45. 45
    jimmeh says:

    It’s worth keeping in mind that of the various crises facing Americans, one of the more serious is widespread obesity. Its pervasive effect in terms of physical and emotional health, quality of life and economic productivity is gigantic, and although it seems not to be getting media attention in the last couple of cycles, it’s a problem that’s not improving. In fact it’s continuing to get worse at an alarming rate: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi.....04.svg.png

    No doubt there are a variety of reasons for this, exercise, perhaps even social stresses from income inequality, economic insecurity, the rise of social media. But the most likely a central cause is poor diet, driven by bad eating habits. An argument that I find compelling (from my own experience) is that the American palate has been conditioned in such a way that it no long can differentiate between food that is nutritious and health promoting and food that’s composed of largely empty calories. The augment goes that this is because we no longer register the freshness of foods, cans vegetables are interchangeable with produce and dishes containing vegetables don’t register as being any more healthful than those without. Selling aged and expired preprocessed foods, I would think would aggravate that lack of distinction, and encourage people to try and save a few cents on a commodity, which in reality, they should be making an effort in which to spend a few dollars more on.

    As other have pointed out, wasted food, is no worse than the wastage of any other resources, and in many cases it’s actually a less problematic resource to waste as it’s renewable and there are technologies and practices (not always put in place to be sure) that can make agriculture one of the most sustainable industries.

  46. 46
    Rob in CT says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    You and me both. 1000 gallons at (this year) $3.65/gallon. That’s the pre-buy price, which many people can’t take advantage of if they don’t have $3650 lying around.

  47. 47
    Corner Stone says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Remind me again why we have still have farm subsidies?

    I agree in that the formula may need to be tweaked. But one govt mooching program I am behind is the ag industry subsidy, in principal. And no, I am not a farmer and do not play one on TV.

  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    Regarding the main thrust of Cole’s post, which I thought was actually a pretty good one overall, how would there be any profit in bringing a damaged/discounted grocery outlet to current food deserts?
    It’s about a lot more than just having fresh produce available at a discounted price.

  49. 49
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Elizabelle: One thinks of mandrakes. Never knew carrots could be so creative. (I’ve grown a few … but they have a tricky life cycle so I’m not a huge fan. Blame the Romans for the Western carrot love.)

  50. 50
    MikeInSewickley says:

    BJ takes a great and strong stand on this. Bravo!

    I remember years back when there were some stores based on “generics”. Aisles of white labeled nondescript cans and products. They didn’t last long as I think it scared the shoppers not to see familiar colors and labels even if the prices were great.

    It always amazed me why Giant Eagle and other chains in the SW PA area didn’t have a dented can and expired product area. We’re adults and can figure out what could be a problem and what is not.

    Glad to see this kind of store getting set up. But I’ll bet good money that the politicians will have a tizzy fit and won’t say a word as it would, by extension, mean they would have to admit to income disparity and living wages.

  51. 51
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @wmd: It used to be that blemished food was used as hog feed. We haven’t stopped eating pork so what’s the beef deal?

  52. 52
    the Conster says:

    @d58826:

    I’m getting the sense that Bumblefuck LePage has picked a fight with the wrong Mainer. Mainers are tough and practical, especially ones from Fort Kent. He’s going to piss off more people than care about ebola.

  53. 53
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Rob in CT: If crude continues on its path you’ll get hosed this year. I’ve never done contract/pre-buy, always pay spot; two weeks ago I filled up for the first time and paid $3.20.

  54. 54
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Botsplainer: They tried that with the FLDS in the 1950s and the fuckers just dug in.

    Americans would chafe at the sort of state control in a country like Germany where cults are banned.

  55. 55
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @C.V. Danes: Because laissez-faire free market ideology is a crock and always has been?

  56. 56
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Corner Stone: I thought he was talking about rural communities that are close to much of the food production but often have destroyed economies and not a lot of options to purchase anything, including produce unless it’s seasonal farmstands. Maybe I misread.

    There’s a big push to grow certain kinds of produce IN the city where it’s consumed. Early days, in the process of getting government to get out of the way in a regulatory way and not at the point where you start having government funding or requirements to really ramp something like this up.

  57. 57
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @the Conster: So true, and I love that she fucked with Christie’s shit and now LePage. Smart cookie, hired a civil rights lawyer, shouting from the rooftops. Of course LePage is making veiled threats, he’s got nothin’.

    Gotta wonder if this idiot thinks it’s a winning issue to run on. Somehow I doubt it’s really going to play well with persuadable Cutler voters who I guarantee you are rich, very educated assholes who don’t like LePage but aren’t really put out personally by his bad policies. Remind them why they sneered at you in the first place.

  58. 58
    sm*t cl*de says:

    he’s going for erotic art with vegetables.

    Hum’rously-shaped tubers are a venerable tradition.

  59. 59
    Hannah says:

    http://www.foodrecoverynetwork.org/

    This seems to be a great organization to help colleges recover food. John Cole, your Mountaineers have a chapter!

  60. 60
    Jamey says:

    Fact: Dented cans that are bulging or distended are the best values, because they contain more goodness!

  61. 61
    Comrade Mary says:

    @shelley: Le Guy was in the States recently and he was shocked by how tasteless American Macs are. They are still tangy, crispy and just sweet enough up here.

    Here’s a great video about the French marketing of those ugly fruits and veg.

  62. 62
    David in NY says:

    @beth:

    My parents lived poor through the Depression

    I think it’s a shame more people don’t have any passed-down experience of this. My parents had the same experiences, but I remember best my grandmother’s stories of the men coming to her back door after dinner asking for any left-overs.

    My folks at least had jobs as teachers and were single ’til ’38, so got by OK, but they got paid for some period in “scrip”, basically IOU’s that maybe a grocer would take in return for food. That was really a hard time.

  63. 63
    RSR says:

    Can’t we just give the old food to the non-local trick-or-treaters?

  64. 64
    cckids says:

    Here in Vegas, there’s a pig farm north of the city that has been there 60+ years. They contract with the big hotels on the Strip, get food that would otherwise get tossed & feed it to the pigs.

    At least 5 TONS a week.

  65. 65
    Jim says:

    Interesting that in Virginia, contents of dented cans cannot be used by restaurants. But grocery stores can sell them. I guess the reasoning is just that the customer needs to be aware that the can is dented, which he/she can’t in a restaurant but can in a store.

  66. 66
    jharp says:

    I have a Sam’s Club size Hershey’s Cocoa container that expired in August of 2008.

    And it is fine.

  67. 67
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    They don’t even know how to use a copy to prop up an errant table leg.

  68. 68
    Morejello says:

    A lot of times the produce that is trimmed for not being top appearance can’t be salvaged because of corporate rules to prevent theft. A good friend of mine works produce at a local Kroger-owned grocery store. One of his hobbies is making artisanal goat cheese from a farm where he helps take care of the goats. He would love to be able to take the trimmings and waste produce to feed the goats, but corporate policy forbids anyone from salvaging it. The reasoning is that some Nefarious People could conspire to steal dozens of dollars of food if they allowed it. So better to chuck it all in the garbage.

  69. 69
    Kay says:

    I agree with this whole post. We had a store like this when I lived in Toledo. I don’t remember how I found it. It was down a side street, alongside railroad tracks. We had small children and no money, so we used to go a lot. The two who were little then (and are now grown) remember it. They remember the shopping carts full of dented cans in the aisles. It was like… an outing! :)

    The store was (oddly) actually owned by a local drug store chain, although it was groceries- dented cans and day old baked goods. That local drug store chain was once owned by the family of the wingnut who dressed like a Nazi and ran against Marcy Kaptur a couple of years ago.

    I still like picking thru the “reduced” shelves at the store. I think there is a stigma though, which is silly.

  70. 70
    karen says:

    The Capitol Food Bank usually stops by for us once a month. Last month we had someone different. We are grateful for what we get but we didn’t just get “imperfect produce.” There were water soaked boxes of moldy cabbage. We didn’t just have a month or two month expiration date. We got drinks with expiration dates of Jan 2014 or Feb 2014. We basically got garbage.

    Our independent living facility is grateful for whatever we get. But the Capitol Food Bank never made me feel like garbage. The someone different made me feel like garbage. They treated us like beggars who would take anything and didn’t deserve decent food. There needs to be a medium somehow between wasting food and moldy and way expired food.

  71. 71
    Full metal Wingnut says:

    @gussie: I think you’re still missing the point. We waste an ungodly amount of food, perfectly good food.

    It doesn’t “have to exist” but it’s a scandal that we waste so much food

  72. 72
    Liana says:

    Agree with you 100%. The following is way off topic, but as a person moving from Nebraska to Morgantown in a month and wondering what in the hell I’m going to do about the beef situation (the situation being that my family and I have been truly spoiled by our neighborhood butchers in our two-plus years here), I have to ask: What/where/who is Chambers? Is there a great butcher in Morgantown? Or do you go to Pittsburgh for that?

  73. 73
    navarro says:

    ” No one cares how pretty an apple is in an apple pie, or sliced up, etc.” you might not care but your statement is overly broad. my father and i had a peach orchard in texas and we ran a roadside stand from 1994-2005 at which we sold peaches, plums, blackberries, tomatoes, and a variety of other seasonal produce all of which was grown on our farm. we deliberately cut into our profit margins to provide the best fruit we could and developed such a devoted following that towards the end of our run in the business we almost couldn’t open the stand because our harvest would be sold out by the time we got it to the road because of pre-orders. despite that, every day i would face customers who would turn their noses up at a bag of peaches because one of the peaches had a soft spot from sitting in the bag, customers who would squeeze the peaches at the top of the bag until they were bruised and demand to know why they were so green, customers who would verbally abuse me because a peach in a box had a healed over spot that a bird had pecked earlier in the season while the peach was growing, and customers who would request to buy “seconds” and then complain because they were bruised.

    to say that no one cares is an exaggeration.

  74. 74
    dsc says:

    we have the AWESOME UGO (United Grocery Outlet) here in east Tennessee. You honestly never know what you’ll find that day, but almost everything is name brand and half of what it is elsewhere.

    I got President’s Brie the other day for $2 a half pound pack. sell by = Nov 12. I bought 5 for holiday parties.

    I usually can get 12 packs of Dannon or Yoplait for $1.99. The flavors are sometimes NOT for me (Key Lime and Pineapple), but I got a Greek peach the other day.

    and the one pound pack of Sun drop super sweet grape tomatoes = 1.99.

    I shop there first in case they have what’s on my list.

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    moderateindy says:

    The only thing that worries me about such enterprises is whether or not food that would be going to the area food banks would be diverted to these “bargain” stores, thus depriving people of good free items, that now are being sold at a profit.

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