Feeding the hungry requires a bit of creativity. According to the United States, one third of all food produced from around the world, or about 1.3 billion tons, is lost or wasted. Meanwhile, billions of people continue to struggle with finding enough food to live an active and healthy life.
This Copenhagen supermarket is looking to remedy that problem. As a method of reducing waste, WeFood is selling food with past due sell-by dates and damaged packaging for half as much as it would cost at the regular grocery store. The grocer, opened by Danish NGO Folkekirkens Nødhjælp, hopes that the new store will attract customers of various socioeconomic backgrounds.
WeFood directly addresses the issue of our modern food system, which favors food safety over waste. The Washington Post notes that “this problem is especially pronounced in developed countries, thanks in large part to sigmas attached to unappealing fruit and vegetables and overly conservative expiration dates.”
The Post continues:
In Denmark, the unreasonable standards send 1.5 billion pounds of edible produce to landfill, undermining efforts to bring nutrition to households that struggle to put food on the table. Elsewhere, the consequences are even more grave: In the United States, for instance, some 70 billion pounds of food were wasted in 2012, 20 percent more than was wasted only a decade before. Americans, rather incredibly, throw out more food than plastic, paper, metal, and glass, a fact that reflects poorly on the country’s fussiness about eating only the freshest foods possible.
WeFood was able to fill its shelves by creating a large network of partnerships, connecting with citrus fruit farmers, butchers, and producers of organic fruit and nut bars. There are also volunteers willing to help pick up the produce from suppliers.
“It’s ridiculous that food is just thrown out goes to waste,” says Eva Kjer Hansen, Danish Minister for Food and the Environment. “It is bad for the environment and it is money spent on absolutely nothing.”
France is making regulations of a similar fashion; this month they passed a law that requires supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities and food banks. It also prohibits retailers from dumping bleach onto items tossed in the garbage, a tactic used to ward off any forages.
In the United States, former Trader Joe’s executive, Doug Rauch, opened an “expired” food market in Boston last summer. The market was known as DailyTable, a membership-only supermarket offering steep discounts. CBS News reports that DailyTable was aided in its effort through donations and by purchasing foods that other supermarkets weren’t willing to buy.
Like WeWood, DailyTable believes that many expired foods are still safe. Rauch tells CBS, “the date printed on packaging clues consumers into the product is at its best, peak flavor.”
Denmark continues to make strides in its efforts to cut down on waste. According to a recent government report, the country managed to reduce its food waste by 25 percent in just five years. These actions follow pledge made by the European Union to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2025.
Many hope to see this type of model expand to developed countries.
Amanda Kohr is a 25-year-old writer and photographer with a penchant for yoga, food, and travel. She prefers to bathe in the moonlight rather than the sun, and enjoys living in a state of the three C’s: cozy, creative, and curious. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving her VW Bug, looking for the next roadside attraction or family diner. She also roams the internet at amandakohr.com and through Instagram.