This supermarket is anything but trashy.
The Real Junk Food Project (RJFP), an organization that combats food waste, recently opened what it calls “the warehouse,” a supermarket in the English town of Pudsey. Unlike your typical grocer, it sells other stores’ surplus food for a “pay as you feel” price, The Independent reports.
Through its supermarket, the group’s goal is to not only prevent edible food from being sent to landfills, but also to provide families in need with a more affordable grocery option, The Huffington Post UK noted.
An investigation by the Evening Standard revealed that supermarkets in the United Kingdom throw out a shocking $299 million worth of edible food a year. Part of the problem is that stores reject food items because there simply isn’t room for it, according to an op-ed written for the BBC by English celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Another problem, he says, is that large supermarkets try to overstock items so that their shelves never look bare.
“[T]hese big retailers are so big they can afford to sell only a proportion of ‘units’ and discard the rest,” Fearnley-Whittingstall writes. “Waste - hundreds of thousands of tonnes of it - is built into the system.
This is exactly the type of waste RJFP aims to combat. The warehouse, which also serves as the group’s headquarters, stocks the surplus food from a variety of sources including major supermarket chains along with restaurants and other establishments, BBC News reported.
The group also runs a global network of 125 cafes, which serve meals made from food that would’ve otherwise been wasted, RJFP founder Adam Smith told The Guardian. The organization has ended up with so much food, that opening up a supermarket seemed like a natural step in their mission, he explained.
“We were intercepting food at our central HQ in Leeds at an enormous level, that we encountered surplus food which we couldn’t stop from going to rot,” he told HuffPost UK. “We then opened the warehouse up to the public and it was an instant success. We didn’t plan it, it was a consequence of operations.”
The RJFP’s new project has already earned praise from some shoppers who are experiencing financial difficulties.
Kirsty Rhodes, who was recently diagnosed with a chronic pain condition, told The Independent that her household income dramatically diminished after her husband had to leave work to take care of their children. They were able to purchase a variety of goods at the warehouse because of the policy that lets customers pay whatever they want to.
“With three young children and two adults to feed we started to struggle straight away,” Rhodes explained. “Luckily we took the plunge to go to the warehouse and it was amazing!”
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