Secret Food Waste Confessions from a Grocery Store Employee

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Just when we thought we had explored every possible way to reduce or prevent food waste, we found more. We had the opportunity to interview a former grocery store employee, (who will remain anonymous) who told us about all the ways that shoppers were causing additional food waste.

1. What are things that shoppers do to cause food waste while they're shopping?

Impulse shopping would be the big one. For instance, customers may buy bulk food or deli items like cold cut meats or prepared foods. A few minutes later or at checkout, they'll change their minds about the purchase. Unlike a sweater, when they leave that item behind, it cannot be resold and must be thrown out. Perfectly good food is wasted this way every hour.

Second would be how people shop. People tend to see shopping as a chore they need to rush through. They pile soft foods (breads, cookies, fruits, other produce) in the cart and put heavier things on top. Those items inevitably get squashed. When those items get squashed, customers decide they don't want them and they cannot be resold. 

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2. What types of foods get thrown out the most and why?

Again, that would be bulk items that are left behind.

The other type is perishable foods (meats, frozen foods, cheese, dairy products). When people abandon food items away from where they found them they are effectively throwing items out. There is not enough manpower to find and return those items in time.

Even when they return it to a cashier there is often no one available to put the food back in a refrigerated area. Food must be put back within a 15 minute window or it is thrown out. 

3. What can shoppers do to lessen their food waste while they're shopping?

Remember that best before dates are not expiry dates. There are only a few items that have those as explained here. Many dry foods are still good and can still be eaten... duh, Flashfood!

4. How can shoppers best prepare for a grocery store trip?

  • Eat beforehand or pick up hot items in store so they don't overbuy.
  • Have an "eat me first bin" in the fridge and aim to buy things that will help to finish that food first. it can also help your budget.
  • Make smaller shopping, trips more often. 
  • Do something that connects you with food and it's importance like: visit a farm, go apple picking, try to grow herbs or create a vegetable garden.

5. Anything else grocery shoppers should be aware about?

Food is fascinating, fun and delicious. Sounds corny, but when we care about our food and waste less it benefits the rest of our lives, especially our budget.

I'd definitely take some time to educate yourself about food waste. At home their are many things you can do to reduce waste. For instance keep stems on till your ready to eat your produce. There's a really good list of how to save up to $600 a year just by organizing your fridge.

Watch the movie: Just Eat It, which is available at your local library. about a couple in Vancouver that eat nothing but expired food for a year. they eat incredibly well and have so much food they start feeding their neighbours! Check out the trailer here.

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Special thanks to our secret informer for sharing her thoughts with us! Tell us reader, are there any other things you've seen or experienced that cause food waste?

Flashfood TeamComment