In America we are conditioned to seek perfection in EVERYTHING, especially when it comes to food. Don’t buy cans with dents, make sure you don’t take the milk in the front of the shelf and NEVER buy fruit and vegetables that are bruised or browning. We are taught that if the product isn’t perfect, it is trash. And that’s what American grocers across the country do every day, throw out the imperfect or #SusProduce.
Every year, the Unites States throws away one-third of all the food it produces – 133 billion pounds of food and the supermarkets are responsible for tossing 10% of that food. Food waste seems to be built in the business models of many grocery stores. There are many factors that contribute to this loss of food, like overstocked products, sell by dates and consumer expectation of perfection, but they should not be used as excuses in a country that currently has 13 million children (48.8 million Americans) who currently don’t lack the means to get nutritious food on a regular basis. This is a shameful truth in the wealthiest country in the world.
My family is lucky enough to have access to a nearby farm, giving us access to fresh fruits and vegetables at a fraction of the price. But even when we shop I always look for the bargains or as TK from TK in the Am says “the #SusProduce” bin. These manager specials are a great way to get veggies that would normally be out of your normal budget, like peppers, eggplants, tomatoes.
In my latest haul I was able to get enough peppers to last the rest of the year for .99¢ which would have cost approximately me more than $5.00 had I bought them from the grocery store. The catch, was that I needed to use them immediately. So I seeded, cut and stored them in the freezer. I use them regularly for sausage and peppers, to cook chicken and anything else I want. The same bag of frozen peppers would have cost me about $6. On the same trip I grabbed enough tomatoes to make three batches of tomato sauce for .69¢ (in the store I would have spent about $10 for these tomatoes).
But this doesn’t have to be just a consumer fix, grocery stores across Europe are setting up shops that address the growing food waste issue. French supermarket chain Intermarche recently started an advocacy campaign to fix perception about misshapen fruits. The program has been a huge success, selling millions of tons of fruit that would normally be chucked in the bin.
In America, Stop and Shop one of the largest food suppliers, has ended it’s overstocking display which has led to less food waste and customers being twice as satisfied with the produce.
So are you down for a food revolution? Will you shop the managers specials or are you hardcore no brown spots on my bananas?
Pro-tip: Bananas with spots make the best banana bread, even the paleo kind!