A new supermarket will try to save average Americans money by selling the food that other grocery stores throw away.
Former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch is betting that can he help the poor eat better by selling “expired” food through a combination supermarket and café called the Daily Table.
Rauch’s idea is a simple one: Around 40 percent of the food produced in the United States each year is thrown away because it is blemished or past the sell by date.l4, as Off The Grid News previously reported. The Daily Table would take that food, cook it and sell it to the poor and urban residents.
“It basically tries to utilize this 40 percent of this food that is wasted,” Rauch told National Public Radio. “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.”
“Yes, and food that’s cosmetically blemished or food that is excess — like fish that is perfectly wholesome, but not the fish they were going out to catch,” Rauch told The New York Times. “We’re going to grab all of this stuff, bring it on-site, cook prepared meals with it and also offer milk, eggs, bread and produce. It’s going to be priced the same as junk food, basically.”
Selling Nutritional Food to the Poor
Rauch’s basic idea is to offer the poor and working class nutritious food at low prices. He wants to serve wholesome food for the same prices as junk food. Rauch believes that many people eat junk food because it is all they afford, and he wants to change that.
“If you’re on food stamps, the average family has about $3 to spend on dinner,” Rauch noted. “For that you can get about 3,700 calories’ worth of soda, crackers, cookies and snacks, or you can get 300 or 320 calories of fruits and vegetables. It’s economically rational to feed your kids junk.”
Daily Table will try to give poor families an alternative by selling things like bread that is past its sell-by date. Rauch noted that many Americans have bread and other products that are past that date in their refrigerators or pantries.
This will allow Daily Table to offer some bargain prices, including whole grain bread for 50¢ to 75¢ a loaf. It’ll also allow Daily Table to serve high quality cooked meals such as those sold at Whole Foods for very low prices.
The first Daily Table will open in Dorchester, a working class neighborhood of Boston, in the next few months. Rauch has spent some of his own money and $400,000 from various charities to create Daily Table.
A Thrift Store for Food
The best way to think of Daily Table is as a thrift store for food, The Boston Globe reported. Just as thrift stores such as Goodwill resell perfectly good used clothing and other items at low prices. Daily Table will sell perfectly good food other stores don’t want at low prices.
Rauch believes such a thrift store for food can help solve problems such as obesity and poor nutrition in lower income areas.
“The number-one leading problem is affordable nutrition,” Rauch said. “For the 50 million Americans who are food insecure, their solution is not a full stomach. It’s a healthy meal.”
Daily Table is designed to sell those healthy meals at an affordable price of around $3. If it works, Daily Table will serve as a prototype for the Urban Food Initiative, which will try to open such restaurants across America.
The Food is Perfectly Good
Rauch, a 31-year veteran of the grocery business, noted that many supermarkets including Whole Foods already sell expired and outdated food. Many of the precooked meals and soups sold at stores like Whole Foods and Safeway are made from out-of-date products.
When asked if such food was dangerous, Rauch said that the code or date on most food had little to do with safety. He pointed out that food that is not outdated can be just as dangerous.
“Virtually all of the known food-related deaths in America have been caused by food that was in code,” Rauch said. He believes that many supermarkets throw out good food because it is cheaper to buy new food than to pay employees to go through such outdated food.
Rauch also noted that many food banks already gather outdated food. He hopes to get large amounts of food donated to Daily Table.