Bernie Sanders may be threatening to force Scandinavian-style socialism on the proud patriots of the United States, but here's one policy point he hasn't talked about yet: Is he going to make every red-blooded, meat-loving American eat dumpster food like they do in Denmark?
A Copenhagen charity just opened a food-waste supermarket in Denmark that will exclusively sell food that would otherwise be destined for the garbage. The store, called WeFood, is the first of its kind and will work with a variety of vendors, including the large Danish supermarket chain Føtex, to stock the store. Food will cost about 30 to 50 percent less than at a regular supermarket. The store hopes to attract both environmentally conscious consumers and those looking for cheaper food.
"WeFood is the first supermarket of its kind in Denmark, and perhaps the world, as it is not just aimed at low-income shoppers but anyone who is concerned about the amount of food waste produced in this country," said Per Bjerre of Folkekirkens Nødhjælp, the local nonprofit that launched WeFood. "Many people see this as a positive and politically correct way to approach the issue," said Bjerre.
WeFood will sell "expired" food and food that was damaged in packing. Massive amounts of so-called "expired" or aesthetically blemished food is tossed out by grocery stores daily—waste that has lately caught the attention of a variety of groups and legislatures that hope to cut down on food waste. "Sell-by" dates are often treated like "expiration" dates, and perfectly good food ends up in the dumpster.
"It's ridiculous that food is just thrown out or goes to waste," said the former Danish Minister for Food and the Environment, Eva Kjer Hansen. "It is bad for the environment and it is money spent on absolutely nothing."
According to Business Insider, thanks to the confusion of "sell-by" and "expiration" dates—and in order to maintain the appearance of well-stocked aisles of picture-perfect food—food waste is built into grocery store business models. This leads to constant overproduction, and critics have decried current food regulations and the entire grocery system as one that inevitably leads to waste—even with stores like WeFood to take up the system's leftovers.
In the United States, grocery stores contribute greatly to the 133 billion pounds of food that are thrown out annually, which is one third of all food produced in the country. In some states, for example, milk is tossed weeks before it actually "expires" in accordance with arbitrary state laws.
To fight waste and prevent stores from throwing food straight into the garbage, France recently required supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities and food banks. Many hope that similar laws will spread throughout the European Union.
Denmark has been a leader in combating food waste—in the last five years the country has cut its food waste by 25 percent. WeFood hopes it will reduce waste by a further 700,000 tons each year.
At the high end of things, the owner of the acclaimed Danish restaurant Noma, René Redzepi, dreams of opening a restaurant that achieves zero waste. If anybody can convince you to eat an "expired" carrot, it's probably him.