With the rising amount of food being thrown away in our country, Trader Joe’s Ex-President has decided to take action. Doug Rauch has unveiled plans for the coming year to open the Daily Table, a store-restaurant hybrid that would sell prepared meals made from food that Trader Joe’s normally discards for being past its “Best-by” date. The aim is to dramatically reduce food waste.
Rauch says the store’s primary focus will be to use fruits and vegetables that are not “cosmetically up to the chain’s standards.” He says his goal is to get people to address the large quantities of annual domestic food waste: 160 billion pounds of food per year in the U.S. “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 do not do something about it,” he told NPR. Rauch believes that the misreading of expiration dates on food is largely to blame for the amount of waste. A recent Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report supports this, demonstrating that labels such as “sell by,” “use by,” and “best before” are confusing to consumers.
Rauch says the opening of the store would do more than just lessen food waste, “It’s the idea of how to bring affordable nutrition to the underserved in our cities. The store will prepare food past its ‘best before’ date and sell it to customers at discounted prices. He says that it is not a new concept and that many other chains already do something similar by preparing the food for their in-store deli. Rauch also says that most of the food thrown away by grocery stores is still good to eat and that he personally keeps items like milk and bread for weeks past the due date. He does not want people to think the store will sell expired food, he says, “This is food that just a few hours ago, people would’ve paid full price for at a grocery store. This is excess food.”
Rauch has spent 35 years in the food industry and says that seeing food thrown away on a daily basis is what inspired him to try to correct the problem. He won’t just sell any food, he plans to sell healthy meals. Nutrient-rich foods will be prepared at the Daily Table because he says people don’t realize that, “Hunger in America is no longer a shortage of calories, it is a shortage of nutrients.” Rauch says hunger has to be fixed with healthy meals, not a full stomach.
The Daily Table will open its first location next year in Dorchester, Mass.