That’s Not “Waste” … That’s “Awesome”

By Lynette Johnson *

Reduce and Recover LogoA couple of weeks ago, I participated in the Reduce and Recover: Save Food for People conference at Harvard Law School, sponsored by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic. While there, I met and talked a bit with Doug Rauch, former head of the Trader Joe’s grocery store chain.

Doug still thinks about food all day, every day. But now he’s thinking about food he couldn’t sell when he worked at Trader Joe’s – food that’s not pretty enough to sell at the grocery store – the same food that the Society of St. Andrew thinks about every day. Doug has pioneered a new kind of grocery store in Boston, called the Daily Table, selling fresh and prepared foods at a steep discount, because the ingredients are imperfect or otherwise considered unmarketable.

Our approaches to doing something about this kind of food are different, and our scale these days is vastly different (Society of St. Andrew moves a lot more food!) but Rauch says some important things, that we’d do well to hear.

Doug challenges our language. He asks, “When you shop at Marshall’s, TJMaxx, or Plato’s Closet, what are you buying? Is it clothing waste?”

He’s pretty clear about this: “No one wants to eat food waste!”

I don’t know that Doug has yet found the right phrase for imperfect and unmarketable food, but he has convinced me that “food waste” is the wrong one to use when talking about the millions of pounds of fresh, healthy, nourishing, and delicious fruits and vegetables the Society of St. Andrew gleans or transports and distributes each year.

I’m leaning toward “unsold,” “available,” or maybe even “awesome.” What do you think?

* Lynette Johnson is SoSA’s Director of Church Relations



In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.