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Sep 8, 2011 11:24 AM

Why are we wasting so much food?

Our local markets here in New Orleans throw away so much food every day it is a crime. What ever happened to day old bread, when nearly every market these days has an in house bakery. Why does a bruised piece of fruit get tossed in the trash instead of discounted for consumer consumption. Same with cheese, a little green on a corner, that can easily be trimmed off, is tossed away. With all the hunger that is taking place in our country, and all the hard times people are experiencing, does it not seem immoral to throw away so much food.
And the same goes for restaurants.
Why are these foods not given to soup kitchens, marked down or frozen for resale, stale bread turned into bread crumbs, bread pudding. The possibilities are endless.

Any ideas as to how to make this happen?

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  1. eliminate lawyers.....

    Seriously though, I used to have a side business selling food products @ special events and flea markets. Some of the items we specialized in was fresh baked goods,and breads. I was also had a partner who had access to Drake's Cakes and Entenmann's products that were pulled off the shelf with a week remaining on the *sell by* date. . Originally, we used to donate the unsold items to soup kitchens, but they became too demanding and special requests.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      So you are saying lawyers stand in the way of selling day old bread at a discount or slightly over ripe fruit . Throwing it away is legally more prudent.
      One of my stores does sell "yesterdays grind" of ground beef at a discount. Is that illegal?

      1. re: Tonto

        Why are these foods not given to soup kitchens......

        Whether true or not, If anyone makes a claim that they have eaten something and it made them's not worth the trouble of having to defend yourself. Whether you provided the food in question, or not,......lawyers will name you and everyone else who donated or sold food items found in their pantries in any action seeking compensation.

    2. I volunteer at a community center that passes out food. They're short of volunteers who will pick up food from stores/markets and the stores don't have the personnel to deliver it. Home made food is another matter and they can't pass that out. But, if you have the time, ask the local food pantries if you can help them out. FWIW, with all the preservatives in bread, they last far longer than the sell by date and our pantry has far more bread than it can use. There are days when boxfuls of bread are thrown out, as sad as it is to see.

      3 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        Last week, I noticed a big truck distributing bread to anyone who wants it in front of my metro station. I asked what was going on and they said that they're a food pantry that had way more bread than they could use so they were giving it to people so it wouldn't go to waste. The truck they used had their information on it and they gave anyone who stopped whether they took any bread or not a small brochure with information about their mission and ideas for how to contribute. I thought that was pretty good advertisement for them and it prevented a truckful of bread from going to waste.

        1. re: hala

          But did it take business from bakeries?

          Handouts aren't always the best for individuals or for a community (just like they aren't usually the best for wild animals).

          1. re: paulj

            Good point. I don't know. They were distributing supermarket bread and I am not sure how many people would have bought a loaf from a corner store if they had not been given a free one. There is a bakery right across the street from where they were distributing the bread, but I don't think that that type of bread would change anyone's mind about buying a baguette.

            As for whether handouts are good or not, I have no clue. In an ideal world, we would not have to give anyone a handout, but in the world that we live in,lots of people need a bit of help every now and then.

      2. A friend worked at a large grocery store chain; they were told to not only throw out that bruised fruit, day old bread, etc, but to dump bleach on that food in the trash. That way anyone even dumpster diving couldn't eat it and potentially sue the store.

        1. Locally, contact your local Feeding America Food Bank (yours is ) or the National Foundation ( ) and ask them why they can't or won't accept this food, or ask what you can do to help facilitate this. Contact the markets and restaurants in question directly and ask why they can't or won't donate.

          Become active.

          My understanding is that many cities and municipalities are working to change the liability laws so this type of food can be donated, but progress has been slow. I thought NYC was taking the lead on this but I haven't heard recently where they are in this.

          We have a couple dozen fruit trees and the local high school kids earn community service hours picking the fruit and delivering several hundred pounds annually to our local food bank/community service organization.

          1 Reply
          1. re: acgold7

            Thank you acgold7.

            That is the kind of information I am looking for.
            Chowser thank you as well, now we are getting somewhere.

          2. In Manhattan, NY my local D'Agostino supermarket puts out bruised fruits and vegies in a plastic bag and I can see the homeless and an assortment of people picking through the bags. I guess it's easier to do that than to try to sell 'imperfect' bruised fruit/vegies. When I've bought them, it wasn't worth the money because I had to throw half the food away.

            Also, the stores have to be careful about not selling food past its expiration date.