From: FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff
Published October 13, 2013 07:45 AM

Why do food stores and restaurants toss good food?

There’s a food craze taking hold in Greater Boston: Tossed-out food is being rescued from Dumpsters; past-expiration-date food is being promoted as a healthy alternative to fast food; shelters and pantries are being stocked with produced gleaned from farms.

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While many squirm at the thought of eating food salvaged from a Dumpster, Maximus Thaler has been Dumpster-diving behind Boston-area supermarkets for the past few years. He’s rescued ripe produce, fresh fruits, eggs, herbs and plenty of perfectly edible packaged food from being buried or burned.

With the food he’s rescued, he’s made such dishes as roasted purple potatoes, fruit salad with oranges, clementines, grapefruit, apples and bananas, curried cauliflower and peppers, and green salad with lettuce, arugula, cucumbers and tomatoes. In all, he’s collected thousands of dollars worth of food that was destined for the trash.

Although diving into Dumpsters isn't always legal, mostly because of trespassing laws, throwing away perfectly good food is criminal. Grocery stores throw out nearly $50 billion worth of food annually, much of it still safe to eat. In fact, a study by the National Resources Defense Council estimated that U.S. supermarkets on average discard $2,300 worth of out-of-date food per store daily.

Thaler has hopes of some day using this castoff food to open a café where patrons eat for free. He even has a name for the café, The Gleaners’ Kitchen, the same name as his website. He wants to show society that it’s possible to feed hundreds of people quality food without charging a dime. It’s not a business model, but more of a social experiment.

Food wasted image via Shutterstock.

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