Say it ain’t so, Joe

After a Trader Joe’s recently opened in my town, I’ve had a chance to observe the store’s practices from a wasted food perspective. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

Trader Joe’s does many things well. Produce, is not one of them. My main complaint is that the grocery chain encourages waste the same way CostCo or Sam’s Club does–in bulk. Most fruits and vegetables come shrink wrapped or bagged with others.have a pear or ten

When it lumps three bell peppers together, it is packaging waste. Need a pear for a recipe? Or maybe three for around the house? Too bad, buy a bag of ten. By my count, the store only sells seven unwrapped, single produce items.  

And what happens when one or two in that bag of ten goes bad? Hopefully, they are donated to a food recovery group, as I observed at a Trader Joe’s in Santa Cruz, Calif. If not, they’re trashed.

Not having a butcher, deli or seafood counter creates household waste because you can’t buy custom amounts. If you want less than a pound of shrimp, you’re out of luck. Same goes for cuts of meat, slices of provolone, etc. Single adults and small families are the ones most affected here.

Finally, the abundance of chopped, bagged produce, which breaks down quicker than whole produce, leads to more waste. Once you break the chemically-aided seal, this stuff is like a ticking bomb.

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