Waste in Grocery Stores

To a certain point, waste in grocery stores is normal. They cannot know “OK, today, we are selling exactly 34 tomatoes”. They can have an idea and estimate the amount of food they can sell within a certain period of time, but never know exactly.

In a clothing shop, for example, when they are unable to sell the entirety of their stock, they can lower the price or something. Hiding clothes in the back on a “50% sale” rack, when they are out of style, is perfectly doable. With food, however, that is not possible. When your tomatoes are furry and your milk is the home of a new species of animals, you cannot sell them anymore.

That is, as I said, normal and understandable. But today I witnessed something that made me wonder about the unjustified wastes.

I was waiting for some meat to be cut for Eric’s sandwiches. Just beside the counter I was waiting at is another counter where they sell prepared dishes: rice, vegetable sautés, etc. Of course, they want them to be all pretty, and full, and looking nice, and colorful, because, God forbid, who would buy the food otherwise?

It was around supper time, so customers were probably quite numerous. One of the men behind the counter had to empty the plates and refill them. What did he do with the old food? He threw it all away. All of it. Mind you, it wasn’t green, it wasn’t moving on it’s own, it was probably not even cold. It’s just that, oh, it had been there for longer than x minutes, so they have to throw it away.

Well, I find that utterly ridiculous. A few minutes later, Eric and I ate in a park just beside the subway station that is beside the grocery store. We had eaten enough, but there were some fries left, which we gave to a hungry man (perhaps he was homeless, I don’t know, but he was hungry). Can you imagine how happy that man would have been if the grocery store had given him leftovers?

Perhaps the bourgeoisie finds disgusting the idea of eating food that has been in a (heated) display for two hours and has been looked upon by people with an income lower than 100,000$ per year. But there are people out there who are hungry. People who got families to feed and give them cheap fries and hot dogs, because that’s cheap and easy to find. Wouldn’t they be happy to get the leftovers from the grocery store? It’s not outdated food, and it’s of a relatively good quality. There are even veggies, can you imagine that!



  1. Aisling Said:

    I’ve blogged about this before as well (http://aisling-b.net/2008/05/13/what-a-waste/). It really is sad about how much it thrown away, but it IS actually to prevent lawsuit, or something. :\ Stupid, really.

  2. Mari Said:

    Sigh, in the grocery store where I used to work we normally threw away two full garbage bags of bread at the end of the day. The bread had been baked that morning. It felt like an insane waste, but at the same time, I live in a small town with few people poor enough to not afford bread. I’m not sure who we could’ve given the bread to.

    In big cities, though, I see no reason why they should throw away all that food. There are always people who would be grateful to have it.

  3. Kristen Said:

    It’s really sad that food places do that. My mom worked at Burger King when she was younger and they would make a set number of burgers at certain times, and by the end of the night, they would throw away a whole big cart of uneaten food. I think, though, that that waste might be a little reduced now thanks to fast food restaurants making food to order.

    But it’s obvious that grocery stores throw away too much food, because of all the freegans that raid dumpsters and snag day-old ice cream cakes and stuff like that. If only they donated it to a homeless shelter. I’m positive a homeless man wouldn’t mind eating cookies that expired a day away or milk that’s still cold and delicious but has past the sell-by date.

  4. Shen-Shen Said:

    We should be like Robin Hood and steal from these grocery stores and give them to the homeless people.

  5. Julie Said:

    LOL, we could.

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