The Daily Table is a hybrid grocery store and restaurant, selling prepared foods, fruits and vegetables. Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe's, will only sell food past its sell-by date and will aim the business at lower income Boston consumers.
In the United States 40 percent of food is trashed because it's past due dates. Some of these "use by," "sell by" and "enjoy by" dates are confusing to consumers and not really about food safety but taste, says Dana Gunders, a food scientist working with the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), who say a great deal of food that's labeled as bad is really perfectly edible.
Doug Rauch, once engineered the success of Trader Joe's, and his project The Daily Table aims to re-purpose perfectly edible foods that are slightly past sell-by dates. When asked by National Public Radio how he got the idea for his new business Rauch replied: "It's the idea about how to bring affordable nutrition to the under-served in our cities. It basically tries to utilize this 40 percent of this food that is wasted. This is, to a large degree, either excess, overstocked, wholesome food that's thrown out by grocers, etc. ... at the end of the day because of the sell-by dates. Or [it's from] growers that have product that's nutritionally sound, perfectly good, but cosmetically blemished or not quite up for prime time. [So we] bring this food down into a retail environment where it can become affordable nutrition."
When Rauch was asked if he thought the idea of buying past-due foods would be a problem to people, he said: "Well, we'll see, won't we? I think that the issue here is really how you talk about it and how you educate.
"For instance, food banks for years have done this. I might say, without naming the names, one of the leading, best regarded brands in the large, national, food industry — they basically recover the food within their stores, cook it up and put it out on their hot trays the next day. That's the stuff that we're going to be talking about. We're talking about taking and recovering food. Most of what we offer will be fruits and vegetables that have a use-by date on it that'll be several days out."
Rauch concluded by saying: "This is about trying to tackle a very large social challenge we have that is going to create a health care tsunami in cost if we don't do something about it. I don't regard Daily Table as the only solution — there are wonderful innovative ideas out there — but I certainly think it is part of and is an innovative approach to trying to find our way to a solution."
The NRDC has produced a report with Harvard that illustrates the spiralling costs of American food waste, with 160 billion pounds of food trashed each year which is far in excess of food wastage in the remainder of the world.
The Daily Table opens early next year in Dorchester, Mass, with nutritious foods and meals on sale at deeply discounted prices.