Some 30% of perfectly good apples never get sold because they are ugly. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Walmart recognizes the ridiculousness of this, and announced that it would start selling weather-damaged apples at a discount. The big-box chain will sell the apples in 2- to 5-pound bags at 300 Florida stores under the brand name “I’m Perfect,” with more locations possible later.

Food Waste is a Huge Problem

Food waste is a big problem in the United States. In a recent survey of 500 people in the U.S., over three-fourths of them admitted feeling guilty about throwing away food, but a little over half of the respondents said that they’d find it hard to cut down on their food waste.

A study published July 21 in the journal PLOS ONE showed that throwing away food not only wastes resources, but also negatively affects the environment. [1]

Worldwide, no other country wastes as much food as the United States. Americans toss out $165 billion in food every year. It’s estimated that just 15% of this wasted food could feed over 25 million Americans a year. [2]

Supermarkets also contribute to food waste. Mother Nature isn’t always kind, and sometimes produce arrives in stores looking less-than-desirable. There’s nothing wrong with dented apples or extra-wrinkly oranges; people are just less likely to pick these over shiny, flawless pieces of fruit, so they rarely wind up in the produce section.

Read: UK Supermarket Chain Vows to Eradicate Food Waste by 2017

Walmart’s Initiative to Save Ugly Fruit (And Gain more Popularity)

Since April, Walmart has been testing sales of “Spuglies” – misshapen and smaller potatoes – in 400 Texas stores.

A Walmart spokesman said:

“We’re focused on making sure that customers are getting it [imperfect produce] at a value. With suppliers, we’re talking about how do we get 100% of the harvest.” [4]

To Walmart’s credit, the chain has diverted 82% of food that would have otherwise gone to landfills since it started tackling food waste within its own system in 2013, which amounts to about 2 billion meals.

ReFED, a food waste advocacy group, says a 20% reduction in food waste would reclaim the 1,250 calories per capita that winds up in landfills each year – enough to feed the American population three times over.

Read: ReFED Report Identifies 27 Solutions to Reduce Food Waste and Save $100 Billion

Another cause of food waste, which might be far more difficult to tackle, is the confusing wording on labels that give expiration dates, sell-by dates, or best-by dates. What exactly do these mean? Shoppers have been demanding more information about these labels since the 1970s; but to this day, no federal laws addressing the issue have been established. [2]

Many states have passed their own laws; but all require different information, and therefore a complicated patchwork of rules now blankets much of the country.

In the PLOS One study, nearly 70% of the respondents said they believed that throwing away food after the package date has passed reduces the odds of food-borne illness, while 60% said trashing some food is necessary to ensure meals taste fresh.

Sources:

[1] Seeker

[2] MarketWatch

[3] Fortune

[4] Quartz


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About Julie Fidler:
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Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.