1 Salvaged Food | The Billfold

Salvaged Food

Shopping at these stores, though, is inherently different than coupon-clipping or even monitoring the Walmart rollbacks. There are many ways to look at the role of salvage stores in the larger economy — not all of them positive — but one hails salvage store customers for making sure products don’t unnecessarily go to a landfill.

“America is very wasteful, very wasteful, and in our business we see a lot of it,” Mary Jane says. “Some people are really hung up on [product sell-by] dates, so they’re just not interested in what we do, but that just leaves it for the rest of them.”

I have never seen a salvage store like Greene County Damaged Freight and Foods, which sells food at deep discounts because they’ve reached their sell-by dates or have been damaged during transportation, but I would certainly not be averse to shopping at one.

The FDA is aware that these stores exist, acknowledges that expired sell-by dates don’t “necessarily mean that a food has gone bad or is unsafe,” and provides a list of things to look out for when shopping at a salvage store (i.e. swollen cans of food probably have bacteria growing inside waiting to kill you).

Freegans have been diving in grocery store dumpsters to salvage food for quite a while now, and every week I play this game called “is this milk still okay to drink?” This game involves a lot of sniffing, pondering, and preparing to spit into the sink if necessary. I’d have no problem shopping at a salvage store to find a few deals.


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Also sometimes you get a box of wine with a sticker on it that says “this fell off a train, but is still OK to drink” and it is! For box wine.

FWIW, salvage stores have also meant less food going to food banks — which is good in a way, because it’s not often very healthy — and bad in another, because of slowly educating people that a lot of food banks and pantries BUY much of their food, and can’t depend on food drives and grocery cast-offs alone.

City_Dater (#565)

Buy organic milk. If you can’t consume it within the month and a half it takes to go bad, you probably shouldn’t bother having milk in the house at all.

DickensianCat (#971)

@City_Dater a month and a half? My organic milk has lasted upwards of 4 months before…I mean I think it has? Is the rule, “if it still smells okay…” maybe that’s just my rule because I’m gross.

City_Dater (#565)


You’re still alive so it was totally okay!
Honestly, I’ve never had milk still around much past the sell-by date; I drink a lot of coffee and tea with milk. And organic milk always has a sell-by date of over a month away.

Derbel McDillet (#1,241)

Not a salvage store, but I’m going to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to Aldi. I love you Aldi! Your body wash in cruelty free and your New York-style cheddar cheese is delicious!

@AconyBelle My mom gets her German coffee there since she’s a coffee snob. She loves Aldis!

@AconyBelle Really? My new apartment is next to an Aldi but I’ve never gone there. What’s worth looking for there?

@wallsdonotfall Everything. Aldi owns Trader Joes, so think Trader Joes but minus the obnoxious flavored popcorn snacks.

Derbel McDillet (#1,241)

@The Dauphine Yes! Aldi and Trader Joe’s are owned by branches of the same family. Very similar style in that most of the products are house-brand, only Aldi is more “discount” oriented. But their stuff is pretty high quality (IMO). They have “special buys” every week that are sometimes brand-name goods.

Megano! (#124)

I play that game with yogurt all the time!
I don’t think I would buy produce or milk products at a salvage store, but there’s lots of stuff I think would be fine — canned goods, JUNK FOOD.

JessicaPaul (#1,432)

I am definitely going to visit this place to see there products and prices. I agree salvaged food would be an cost effective option but in-terms of health it is quite risky.

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