Pineapple Express

Here in Portland, it’s all about New Seasons Market (and coffee and bikes and beer). The nine-store chain is like a hometown Whole Foods with a heart. Reasonable, friendly and local.

Add non-wasteful to that list. A little birdie told me that one of the New Season’s Portland (Seven Corners) stores leaves out some of its food that is edible, but not sellable for folks to scrounge. Needless to say, I had to check this out.

I’ve been twice now and have seen the same both times–a box of slightly tarnished produce. I have no idea how long the box has sat outside, but each time there have been apples with just a superficial blemish, carrots, tomatoes, etc. The store is essentially donating food to the homeless and/or freegans without making them “dive” into the dumpster. 

I spoke with an employee who told me that the practice is above board, not the act of a few well-minded employees. He also said they put out a lot of bread, but either it gets snapped up fast, I’ve come at the wrong time for bread or both. I’ll need to do a little more question-asking, but, from what I’ve seen, it’s a neat practice.

Here’s where I should say something about the lovely pineapple pictured. Since I love the fruit, I couldn’t resist taking home one of the four whole pineapples sitting outside in the store’s culled produce bin tonight. A store employee was doing the same while I was back there.

I’d guess that the Maui-grown fruit was tossed because its leaves were a bit off (as you can see). In other words, it was perfectly ripe. It smelled and felt just right. Long story shorter: My temporary Portland housemates and I enjoyed plenty of juicy, luscious pineapple tonight.

A happy ending, but the majority of grocers–not even other New Seasons–do not have such a box out back. So they’re shipping items from Hawaii to Oregon or wherever only to throw it out once it gets ripe. Holy Sasquatch, talk about a carbon (Big)footprint!

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