I was in a Wal-mart about a year ago, before dawn, to pick up some groceries and walked past the bakery. I stopped and back tracked to watch what was happening.
An employee was looking at different packaged bread then tossing a few here and there into a cart. The cart was pretty well full already and didn't have much room left. Once she packed that cart, she grabbed another one and started filling it with pies, cakes, cookies, etc.
I walked up to her and asked if those items were expired, and she responded that they were. I asked what the store does with them. She replied that they package them all up and toss them in the trash compactor. "Really?" I replied unbelievably. "Yes, she said, 'it sickens me to think how much this store wastes, we don't even give it to a shelter, not even this time of the year."
|flickr/cc - Tomi Tapio|
I asked one final question, "If I wanted to buy those, would I get a reduction of price due to the expiration?" She didn't think so, it would have to be run by the management, but seemed unlikely since many others have asked and nothing has been done.
However, since this conversation, it appears Walmart does have a small area in the freezer section where they mark down a few bakery items that are close to expiration (1-2 days away) and they also have some organic bins outside in the back of the store. These bins are supposed to be locked but not all bins have the locks.
Recently I was able to take a look into one of these bins and found them to be as expected, produce items that were in bad shape, but not all of them. The pineapples looked like they had seen better days, the melons looked ok but I was only interested in the green pepper and the apples.
I grabbed my canvas bag out of my car and tossed in a few Braeburn apples and the green pepper and speed walked to my car so I didn't get into trouble. I was on their property even though they had tossed the food out. This trash bin was full and about a 55 gallon size.
I wanted to call up some Freegans to swoop over and take what they took so the food wouldn't go to waste. And I did try. I looked through Meetup.com for freegans and tried emailing a lady on the site but got no response. Unfortunately, there isn't a regional or city contact for freegans to get the word out on food that is tossed out unless you know someone directly from already being part of the group.
With what I grabbed out of the trash, the 8 apples I picked up would have run about $4 if I bought them in the store and the green pepper ($1) was going to be used on a sandwich for that day. However, after cutting into the pepper, the smell that emanated from the blackened seeds crushed that idea quickly as I'm not as adventurous yet. But the apples have tasted delicious after cutting out the few bad areas! And yes, I rinse the apples thoroughly.
Here is my question to you:
If you didn't know these came from the trash and you pulled them out of the crisper looking like this (pock marks on the apples and bruising on the top of the green pepper as well). Would you have continued to cook and eat them?