Why Aren’t U.S. Grocery Stores Selling You Edible Expired Food?

Why Aren't U.S. Grocery Stores Selling You Edible Expired Food?

For years, food advocates and environmentalists have begged American grocery stores to wake up, smell the food waste, and sell expired food. While most traditional grocery stores in the U.S. haven’t quite accepted this position yet, a store in Denmark has.

WeFood, the one-of-a-kind market in Denmark, is selling slightly damaged boxes of food or those that are not just-out-of-the-oven fresh. That means “treats for a holiday that happened last week, a ripped box of cornflakes, plain white rice mislabeled as basmati, or anything nearing its expiration date” are for sale, NPR reports. The grocery store is run by volunteers and all of WeFood‘s profits support anti-poverty initiatives in places throughout the world, such as South Sudan and Bangladesh.

Although WeFood’s products aren’t perfect, the store is well stocked. The sustainable grocery store sells bread, fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, frozen goods, dry foods, as well as household items. “Prices at the store are 30 to 50 percent cheaper compared to any other supermarket in the city,” EcoWatch reports. “The new venture came out of successful crowdfunding as well as partnerships with large and small Danish grocers and manufacturers who help stock WeFood’s shelves with their perfectly edible but rejected food.” And although food surplus is everywhere, WeFood employees are constantly working to find edible food waste at local establishments before the grub gets totally wasted.

Similar efforts in France have recently seen an emphasis on “ugly” fruits and vegetables for sale in upscale markets for reduced price, and regulations that prevent markets from tossing out expired or near-expired foods. They must be rerouted to French food banks and shelters instead.

Still, while WeFood may seem like a slightly out-of-reach concept to our obsession with convenience foods and excess in the good ol’ U.S.A.,  this isn’t the first store of its kind in Europe. Other establishments, known as social supermarkets, cater to low-income consumers; but WeFood is targeting the general public.

“If you call it a social supermarket, it’s difficult to get customers to go there,” Per Bjerre, a representative of the charity DanChurchAid, a human rights organization that has offices in Denmark, says. “Who wants to be poor? If you want to stop [the] waste of food, everybody has to be into it.” And it looks like going with that concept has worked because conscious-minded consumers are shopping at WeFood in droves.

Social activism concerning food waste has captivated the Danes over the past five years reports NPR, and has led the country to reduce food waste by 25 percent-“a reduction of roughly 35 pounds per person per year.”

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