You Gonna Eat That, Neighbor?

Eating other people’s leftovers isn’t for everyone, but it is for someone. LeftoverSwap app founder Dan Newman hopes that others aside from me (and foragers and freegans) are interested in the notion.

The app, due out by the end of this month, will facilitate leftover sharing or trading. You post a picture of your leftovers and offer them up or request trade offers. Nearby leftover lovers then swoop in to give your food a good home.

The idea has been newsworthy and polarizing–it’s either super cool or dumb as heck. My favorite comment on the idea can be paraphrased: ‘Why wouldn’t you just eat your own leftovers?’ And judging by the reaction in San Francisco, local boards of health won’t be downloading the app. Still, it could be a small part of the anti-food waste arsenal.

We risk exposure to germs in countless ways. And we eat the leftovers of our families and roommates. Doing so with the leftovers of strangers is the big leap here. Newman, the app’s creator, spoke about that issue with NPR: “People seem to have a huge lack of trust in their fellow man, thinking that leftovers would be diseased somehow. It goes back to the couch-surfing thing. You’re staying at a random person’s place and you have to trust they aren’t going to do something weird. It’s the same with leftovers.”

The major barrier for LeftoverSwap, other than that ‘ick’ sound many people are making and the raised eyebrows of every American board of health, is that paying for a hotel (instead of couch surfing) is way more costly than buying a fresh order of fried rice (instead of claiming your neighbors’). Still, there are plenty of us out there who trust their fellow man (and their moo shu).

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