Corvallis Stores on Tackling Food Waste

Americans love food — it’s no secret. But what many still don’t know is that a massive amount of food is wasted each year in the states.  

In fact, according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, the numbers are shockingly high. On average, Americans waste 108 billion pounds of food each year. That’s roughly $161 billion thrown out each year, or 40 percent of all food in America.   

But surely Corvallis is different, right? Surely the shining example of a scientifically minded Oregonian city should have turned food waste into a thing of the past?  

Well, yes and no. Food waste still occurs on a large scale across Corvallis and Benton County — but it’s more often than not wasted by regular citizens who simply forget the bag of veggies in the crisper.  

Luckily, many of the wholesale stores in the area take food waste rather seriously — with one glaring exception.  

Fred Meyer, Market of Choice, and the First Alternative Co-op all work to help prevent food waste. Market of Choice repurposes anything they can, such as rotisserie chicken, in order to prevent waste. Similarly, Fred Meyer repurposes what they can and then sends off near-expiration foods to those who actually can make use of them.  

Anything that’s left at the end of the night goes to the Linn-Benton Food Share for both companies.   

The First Alternative Co-op takes things a step or two further, providing a “gleaner fridge” for employees who want food that can’t be sold. When the time comes, that food is composted. All remaining food that is still edible but not able to be sold goes to the Vina Moses Center and the Linn-Benton Food Share. 

But that’s not where First Alt stops — all composted material is available to the public, free of charge. It’s collected regularly by farmers and gardeners alike, and that’s pretty cool.  

What’s not cool, however, is a refusal to donate food — or even comment on food waste, by one of the nation’s largest grocery chains.  

Despite their large presence in the city, Safeway refused to comment to the Advocate on what happens to their food waste.   

If food waste unsettles you like it does many others, encourage your local businesses and restaurants to find alternative ways to dispose of food. There is a houselessness crisis in Corvallis, and if food is edible, it should go to those who need it — not the dumpster out back.