The news that former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch plans to open a food store in Boston that will use and sell “expired” or near-expired foods was met with mixed reactions. But Rauch’s plan is far from original, as thousands of grocery stores and markets across the country have been selling “expired” or damaged—but perfectly edible—food for years. Chances are, there’s just such a store near you! (For a more complete, state-by-state listing of “salvage groceries” in the United States, click here.)
Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Amazing Savings Markets, Asheville, N.C.
In the Asheville, NC, area, Amazing Savings says its three markets are “the place to be for all your grocery and household needs”—all sold at 30-50 percent below retail. Shoppers can find organic and conventional foods, fresh produce, health and beauty items, and even fresh meat and bread—some of which has closer sell-by dates.
Photo: Amazing Savings Markets
If you live on the West Coast and are going to be shopping at a grocery store anyway, check out Grocery Outlet. The chain, which has more than 150 stores in six western states, boasts savings of 30 to 60 percent off supermarket prices. One of the reasons it can do this is because it sells foods that are approaching their “sell-by” dates. But as the company explains on its website, these dates are not an indication of the food no longer being safe for consumption, but a recommended length of time a store should display the items.
Photo: Grocery Outlet
Haymarket, Boston, MA
A longtime weekend tradition for many Bostonians, Haymarket offers deeply discounted produce the way it’s been done for centuries: sold from open-wood stands and pushcarts. Vendors have been selling their wares on this site since the mid-1700s, and today customers love the old-time Boston look and feel of Haymarket—and the rock-bottom discounts they can find. Produce from Haymarket will need to be used a little sooner than supermarket produce, however, as it is typically on the riper side.
Photo: Jef Nickerson/Creative Commons via Flickr
The Barn Grocery, Greenfield, MA
Specializing in overstocked and short-coded merchandise, The Barn Grocery serves a health- and sustainability-focused Western Massachusetts clientele from its 10,000-square-foot warehouse. It started in 2002 as a discount grocery store only, but over the years it has added meat and produce to its stock of deeply discounted supermarket products.
Photo: The Barn Grocery
AAA Freight Salvage Groceries, San Antonio, TX
AAA Freight Salvage Groceriesisnot the sexiest name for a place that sells food, but Central Texas folks looking to save a buck on groceries shouldn’t let that stop them. As the name suggests, AAA sells products that were damaged on delivery or that restaurants ordered too much of. Like many of these places, inventory can vary from day to day, so flexibility is necessary when shopping here.
Steve Holt's story about healthy fast food was anthologized in Best Food Writing 2011 His food and general interest stories regularly appear in Edible Boston, Boston Magazine, The Boston Globe, and other places.Email Steve | @thebostonwriter | TakePart.com