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Question: What do grocery stores do with fruits and vegetables that are going bad?

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Mike 03 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:15 PM
Original message
Question: What do grocery stores do with fruits and vegetables that are going bad?
There must he hundreds if not thousands of pounds of produce that go bad each week at the average grocery store. (And maybe meat too). Does anyone know what happens to all of that? It would be absolutely scandalous if it were thrown in the rubbish.

I am seeing more and more people on the streets here begging for money for food. I'd be shocked if we had less than 15% unemployment in my town. Do you think the food that is near expiration is used in some good way?

Just curious.
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Midlodemocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
1. Well, I know that Second Harvest in NYC partnered with
restaurants and stores back in 2002. My SIL worked diligently with them prior to her death in 2003.

Not sure about entities.
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Xipe Totec Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
2. They used to throw it out
now they keep in the shelves until somebody buys it.
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rocktots Donating Member (35 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
3. Talk to the veggie guy
Get a juicer, and talk to the veggie guy about getting some stuff they throw out. Apples can be used, and are sometimes a bit better when they are not so ripe. You will still pay, but very cheap.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 05:55 PM
Response to Reply #3
28. Our produce guy used to save some of it for a lady who had rabbits..n/t
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:18 PM
Response to Original message
4. In areas with hog farming, it is used for feed...
Of course, that is pretty over-ripe stuff... I would think that they would donate to food banks or at least soup kitchens that would use it immediately, but it is a good question
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TlalocW Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:18 PM
Response to Original message
5. They ought to make banana nut bread out of the rotten bananas
That's how mom always made it.

TlalocW
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Ediacara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:24 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. That happens sometimes
But the volume of bananas used to make banana bread is pretty small.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:19 PM
Response to Original message
6. The stuff that's black and slimy is trimmed and trashed
Some of the balance is sold for feed, some is donated to local food banks and soup kitchens.

Grocery chains write unsalable produce off as charity and everybody wins.
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Mike 03 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:29 PM
Response to Reply #6
14. I hope you are right.
In this small town, I can't see any reason to let it rot. We have a lot of war veterans here who would starve without help.
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:19 PM
Response to Original message
7. I see packages of "old" fruit and veggies on sale for much lower prices.
I do not know what they do when they are beyond being sold....
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:19 PM
Response to Original message
8. We used to hurl them at the wall and let them fall into a dumpster at the store where I worked
:D
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Ediacara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:22 PM
Response to Original message
9. It depends on how durable and/or how bad the produce is
The more durable produce (apples, squash, some melons, outdated salads, etc) get donated to the food bank, the other stuff is trashed.

And quite frankly there's nothing scandalous about throwing away a rotten orange. No one will eat rotten food, no matter how desperate they are.
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The empressof all Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:24 PM
Response to Original message
11. Starbucks gives to Non Profits and Gleaners.
Edited on Mon Nov-24-08 04:27 PM by The empressof all
Starbucks has a policy of only using freshly ground beans. If ground beans for are around for more than a few hours they are dumped into a donation bin. When I worked in a shelter we picked up a few pounds of ground beans every week along with day old pastries. Most grocery chains also work in conjuncion with food banks and donate older produce, meat and canned goods.

If you'd like to get involved in the Gleaners movement to get fresh food to those in need google Gleaners. Many communities have groups working on getting these kinds of donations in place.

Here's a link to one of the Gleaner organizations in my state

http://skagitgleaners.org/
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:26 PM
Response to Original message
12. Ask at the store. Many supermarkets do partner with local food banks and kitchens.
The food kitchens can use lots of food up pretty quickly.
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Mike 03 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:30 PM
Response to Reply #12
16. Thanks, I hope you are right.
I appreciate the serious response. Next time I'm there I will ask. Duh, I should have done that before.
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:28 PM
Response to Original message
13. our local store says liability issues dictate how they handle stuff - >
used to have a dead vegetables rack each morning with big bags of off produce like mushrooms, peppers, and lots more.
then their attorneys recommended stopping that as they might be liable for a customer's illness if such food had been identified as less than prime.

too bad. in european local markets produce used to be priced according to condition, becoming cheaper as it "aged" until it reached a condition where nobody would pay anything. that's too sensible for American stores.

Msongs
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Ikonoklast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:30 PM
Response to Original message
15. I worked in retail food for near on twenty-eight years
Perishable product such as produce that was not of salable quality would be given to a food bank, and the rest was disposed of. We used to save all trimmings from lettuce, cabbage, etc. for a local hog farmer, and he took all the off-quality merchandise we could give him. Saved in disposal costs, big time.

Fresh meat that didn't sell but was still edible was re-wrapped and frozen, and once a month the food bank would pick it up. Same with out-of-date smoked meat products.

Non-perishable food (canned goods, cereal, boxed mixes, etc.) near expiration was usually marked down if within thirty days of going out-of-date. After that, it was disposed of as food banks were leery of accepting them. After all, some of those canned good may be ten to twelve months old already, and it was better to be safe than sorry.
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jedr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 05:00 PM
Response to Reply #15
25. You covered it pretty well;
Also ,slightly over ripe produce gets cut up and put on vegetable and fruit trays. Some goes over to the hot deli and used. Food banks get their share and the farmers are using rotted products for animal feed. Anything that poses a health risk is destroyed ( Dumpster divers pose a liability risk to stores and dumpsters are often locked). I also work in the food industry and most stores now require produce managers to have a minimum of inventory on hand in the evening, depending on early deliveries for the next days needs. Stiff competition makes "shrink" (waste) something that is closely watched. Fear not , up until the Bush administration , we had the safest food in the world and we will again..
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nancyr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:30 PM
Response to Original message
17. Here it's thrown away.
Though there is one local grocer who takes it home to feed his hogs.
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:30 PM
Response to Original message
18. I know a few places around here give their usable-but-not-pretty stuff to Food Not Bombs,
and a few others toss it.

The local food co-op donates really generously. Raley's (regional grocery chain HQ'd here) and Trader Joe's dumpster a lot of perfectly good food.
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Inkyfuzzbottom Donating Member (293 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:31 PM
Response to Original message
19. At my smaller local store
they discount the fruit, veggies and meat and put it in a special discount section. I often buy it on my way home from work to cook that evening. Sometimes I buy up the meat and put in in the freezer for use later. It's a great way to save money.
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:32 PM
Response to Original message
20. Around here it becomes animal feed. Some info.
Many of my companies clients are groceries. First off, you have to understand that many large grocery stores do NOT actually own the produce they sell. They arrange to receive produce from a wholesaler and remit payment to that wholesaler only for produce that sells. The store doesn't make any profot on food that goes bad, but it doesn't take a loss either.

This complicates things a bit. Stores, in this case, cannot simply give away dated produce because they don't actually own it. Where I live, wholesalers have established a secondary market with farmers and deliver waste food for animal feed. In areas where no such secondary market exists, the wholesaler may just tell the store to trash the leftover fruits and veggies. If the store were to simply give away the food, the wholesaler could demand that the grocer PAY them for that food, since the grocer "sold" it, albeit at no cost. A wholesaler would probably win that lawsuit.

Secondly, in many areas there ARE groups that do exactly what you are suggesting. Not all wholesalers toss or resell old veggies. Some do donate the food to charities who distribute them to the poor. This allows the wholesalers to write off their potential loss as a charitible donation. Whether or not the food is donated often comes down to the financial bottom line of the particular wholesaler...if the tax savings exceed the potential profits from a secondary sale, it will get donated. Otherwise, it gets fed to the animals or turned into mulch.
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notadmblnd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:32 PM
Response to Original message
21. I'm pretty sure the little grocery store in my neighborhood...
gets it out of a neighboring town's store dumpster.
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:32 PM
Response to Original message
22. Well I have see them sold in bargain bins for less than fresher stuff in some
of my markets. Also, I remember reading stories back decades ago when the homeless problem started becoming chronic about shelter workers raiding garbage bins where perfectly good but unsellable produce was being thrown away. It was illegal and I think a compromise was reached for the markets to donate that produce to the soup kitchens instead of throwing it away.
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PetrusMonsFormicarum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:37 PM
Response to Original message
23. Freegan bounty
by the receiving doors in the natural foods grocery where I work. Day-old bread and produce are made available daily, plus we work with local charitable orgs and gleaners for perishable grocery items. Keeps the really militant freegans (around here, also called "opportunivores") from trashing our dumpster area.

Even though we have the free table, we still have to boot people out of our dumpsters. When they accuse us of throwing away good chow, we explain that A) our composting dumpsters contain meat and meat juices, and B) if it's going in the dumpster we have made the judgment call that it's no longer edible.

Yeah, our free table has gotten pretty busy lately. A couple of weeks ago, a hobo-chic hipster held up a free bag of grapes. "Are these organic?" No, I replied, and he promptly dropped them and stormed away.
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Ikonoklast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 04:56 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. He'll starve on principals.
Either that, or he's not really hungry.

But he is an asshat.
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petersjo02 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
26. Local grocery stores cooperate with charitable orgs
who provide meals for the poor and homeless.
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pinto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-24-08 05:41 PM
Response to Original message
27. Most groceries here slash meat on last day of sale. Good buys, good to cook same day or freeze.
I'm on a limited income and have gotten to know the general "mark down" days and shop for protein with an eye on freezing for later.

A lot of stores around here also have cooperative relationships with the local regional food bank who then parcels out items to local, smaller non-profit support agencies. The food bank has the same arrangement with our large produce growers, harvesting crops left in the fields after first pick, or perfectly good culls from the packing houses (CA).
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