More than 90% — ninety percent! — of Americans throw out food prematurely, as TIME reported last week. Basically, consumers are confused by phrasing like “use by” and “sell by” and so, to be safe, they end up tossing perfectly good produce, snacks and more. In reality, food dating really just indicates when an item is at its peak freshness, not when it becomes inedible.
All of this got Doug Rauch, the former president of the Trader Joe’s supermarket chain, thinking about a potential solution. And now, it seems he might have found one: a market that specializes in preparing and repackaging expired food and selling it at deeply discounted prices. He plans to launch this project, called the Daily Table, next year in Boston’s working-class Dorchester neighborhood, NPR reports.
“It’s the idea about how to bring affordable nutrition to the underserved in our cities,” Rauch told NPR. “It basically tries to utilize this 40 percent of this food that is wasted.” He explained that the Daily Table’s setup will be “kind of a hybrid between a grocery store and a restaurant if you would, because primarily it’s going to take this food in, prep it, cook it [for] what I call speed-scratch cooking.”
The basic concept of repurposing expired food isn’t new. Food banks, for example, have been doing it for years. But the idea here is to make this nutritional food an affordable, quick and easy option to people who might otherwise spend their lunch money at McDonald’s. And of course, it’s about implementing a longer-term solution to the growing problem of wasted food across the U.S.
“This is about trying to tackle a very large social challenge we have,” Rauch told NPR, “that is going to create a health care tsunami in cost if we don’t do something about it.”