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Local Trader Joe's earns praise with genius way to avoid seasonal food waste: 'I wish all stores tried to do this'

"We don't ever want to throw it away."

"We don't ever want to throw it away."

Photo Credit: iStock

An enormous amount of food waste is generated every year when grocery stores throw away products that go unsold. 

However, it is possible for that food to still be put to good use, as Trader Joe's demonstrated when it donated two bins of unsold pumpkins to a local farmer to help him feed his livestock.

The recipient of the pumpkins, goat rancher and content creator cowboymax (@cowboymax), made a TikTok video showing how much his animals enjoyed them. His goats, pigs, and chickens eagerly scarfed up the pumpkins. Even a dog tried a piece (but ultimately seemed to decide against it).

@cowboymax Thank You, @Trader Joe's for being mindful and not wasting thing incredible resource. #endfoodwaste #foodwaste #cowboymax ♬ original sound - cowboymax

Max tells his viewers that Trader Joe's first tried to donate the pumpkins to local food banks but found that they were all so well stocked that they weren't currently accepting donations. This is how the farm animals ended up with them instead.

"There is a thing called a Food Waste Hierarchy," Max explains. When Trader Joe's has extra food it needs to get rid of, it first tries to get it into the hands and mouths of people, then to animals, and finally, if neither of those options works out, it can be used as compost to help grow more food. 

"The last resort would be throwing it away, but we don't ever want to throw it away," he says.

Food is the "single largest component of U.S. landfills," making up 22% of trash, while annual global food waste is about 1.4 billion tons

Though Trader Joe's ranks low on some sustainability lists due to its use of single-use plastic packaging (which the chain claims to be scaling back), its policies on food waste set the standard for grocery stores across the country. The store donates nearly 100% of its unsold food products and donated 85 million pounds of food ($411 million worth) to its non-profit partners in 2022 alone.

"That's awesome. I wish all stores tried to do this," one of Max's TikTok followers commented.

"They donate so much to our local food pantry. TJ is so generous," wrote another.

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