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Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

September 11, 2005

Have you ever wondered what a supermarket does with its leftover food? You know, the stuff that's either just passed its expiration date or the fruit that's a little too banged up to sell? Maybe you've been thinking about it during the wee hours in the morning, dying to know, afraid to ask. Maybe it's never even crossed your mind to care. Well, friends, I'm here today to tell you exactly what one local grocery store does the bakery products after the sell-by date has passed:

See, I needed groceries. It happens. I bribed a friend into driving me to a local food warehouse, and, as we were perusing the bakery products in search of something delicious yet affordable, a woman approaches us. She is a baker at this nameless grocery store and began tempting us by saying, "Come on, girls, you want some cake, don't you?" And we're thinking, yes, yes, we do... but not at $4 a pop, thanks. We started to back slowly away to continue our shopping when everything changes.

She says the magic words: "You can have this for a quarter" followed closely by "I'm just going to throw it away anyway." We-ell, my ears perked up. As a professional slacker, I'm always in search of a bargain. 25 cents for a cake? Tell me everything.

After a few minutes of talking with our new best friend, Bertha Bakery, we both have cake: a devil's food cake and a pack of mini cupcakes for April, 2 packs of mini cupcakes for me to share at tomorrow's first WC meeting of the semester. Awesome! But Bertha ain't done talking yet. She's got a story she's dying to tell... and lucky for Bertha, she told the right person.

We get a tour - we see the bakery, the floured surfaces, the racks of bread crumbs ("See them? They've been sitting there 6 - 8 months. Don't buy those. I wouldn't buy those." Thanks for the tip, Bertha.) Then we round the corner and I see a sight that makes me sick to the very center of my being, something that doesn't really surprise me and makes me very sad: three giant grocery carts full to overflowing with bakery products to be thrown away.

Bertha doesn't like it either. Whenever she spies a customer who looks cool and the main manager is out of the building, she makes a deal. Why throw it all away, she figures, making us squeeze loaf after loaf of bread to prove it's still good. It's not just loaves of white bread - this is the fancy stuff: whole wheat buns, raisen bread, pepperoni rolls, fruit danishes, whole cakes, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, ciabatta, foccacia, baguettes... all of it crammed inside a row of grocery carts waiting for the dumpster.

The dumpster. This stuff is still good! I ended up buying a dozen wheat rolls and pepperoni bread, both of which will last a week a while in my freezer, for 25 cents a pack. But that's not even the point:

THERE ARE PEOPLE STARVING IN AFRICA AND EVEN IN THE UNITED STATES... AND YOUR LOCAL GROCERY IS THROWING AWAY TONS OF FOOD EVERY WEEK.

There's something wrong with this equation. This doesn't add up. How can this possibly make sense to anyone?

If this doesn't make you sick to the soul... you're heartless. Why can't the grocery donate the food to a shelter? Mark it at deep discounts and sell it? Give it away on the street corner? Give it to local farmers as feed? Absolutely anything but just throw it away. This is appalling. I was appalled, disgusted and so sad at the senseless waste. And this is just bread: what about fruit? vegetables? meat? I shudder to think.

Bertha says her manager is afraid of getting sued by a farmer whose pigs get sick. Bertha slaves all day in a kitchen making this food and the sight of it being thrown away every night makes her sick.

Is this what we've come to in our world? People who would rather throw perfectly good food away than try to do something good with it? And this is just a small store: what about those megaplexsupergrocerycastles with twice as many products? Do they do the same thing? You can bet your sweet ass they do.

Today I am saddened by a sick and twisted world.

Moira at 09:21 PM :: Comments (3) :: ::
Comments:

The Setonian published an article on the SHU cafeteria food issues last year.

http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Setonian/006294.html

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 11, 2005 09:56 PM

Mountains and mountains of food in the dining hall that get thrown away every day...by the students. :o( It's heartbreaking.

Posted by: Neha at September 12, 2005 01:49 PM

Hey Moira,
As much as I also hate to see food wasted I kind of have to speak for the grocery stores. Well, I worked at a grocery store for 3 years back home. I have to say that once things are past the expiration date, stuff has to be thrown away because nobody buys the stuff. I've seen stuff that was there long after the expiration date and either it spoils and a customer complains or one of the departments gets in trouble because they didn't get rid of the stuff when they should have. Also, the people who work in the store really don't have much of a choice, you just have to basically do whatever the company tells you to do. So basically once the food reaches expiration date, it has to be gone.

Posted by: Sue at September 14, 2005 10:19 PM
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