Good for Denmark

Once again, Roberto A. Ferdman:

Food waste has met its most innovative opponent yet, a new supermarket in Denmark, where the vegetables are dirt cheap—and too ugly or old to sell elsewhere.

WeFood, which opened in Copenhagen this week, stocks only food that is past its official expiration date or unworthy of other supermarket shelves because of aesthetic imperfections and damaged packaging. The grocer, opened by Danish NGO Folkekirkens Nødhjælp, is hoping to lure shoppers of all socioeconomic backgrounds by selling its food at steep discounts—somewhere between 30 to 50 percent cheaper than other standard supermarkets.

The new supermarket is a not-so-subtle swing at the modern food system, which often prioritizes food safety at the expense of waste. Roughly one-third of all food produced worldwide ends up in the garbage, complicating efforts to alleviate hungry around the globe. But the problem is especially pronounced in developed countries, thanks in large part to stigmas attached to unappealing fruit and vegetables and overly conservative expiration dates.

In Denmark, the unreasonable standards send 1.5 billion pounds of edible produce to landfill, undermining efforts to bring nutrition to households that struggle to put food on the table. Elsewhere, the consequences are even more grave: In the United States, for instance, some 70 billion pounds of food were wasted in 2012, 20 percent more than was wasted only a decade before.

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