App helps prevent food waste while giving you a great bargain on food

The statistics on food waste are eye-opening. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's most recent info on food waste, more than 133-billion tons of food goes wasted every year. That accounts for about 30-40% of the nation's food supply.

Experts, including those from the USDA, point to many factors as to why that is the case. Their website explains: ‘Between the farm gate and retail stages, food loss can arise from problems during drying, milling, transporting, or processing that expose food to damage by insects, rodents, birds, molds, and bacteria. At the retail level, equipment malfunction (such as faulty cold storage), over-ordering, and culling of blemished produce can result in food loss. Consumers also contribute to food loss when they buy or cook more than they need and choose to throw out the extras.’

But when it  comes to restaurants and some grocery stores, there's a new way to combat this, while also providing a small boost of income. It's an app and program that began in Copenhagen, but just started in the U.S. just a little over a year ago, called "Too Good to Go."

If you love pie, and we mean, the freshly made stuff, then you have to check out ‘Pie Bar’ in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. 

"Our most popular ones are like a chicken pot pie, a cha-cha chicken which is like siracha mayo with bacon in there," said Devon Robbins, director of operations for Pie Bar, LLC.

Some other popular ones include a ‘Ballard Bumbleberry Crumble Pie’ and classic Apple Pie. What makes this place unique is that the pies, pair with a cocktail.

"Our apple pie moonshine meal is a nice twist on your typical Moscow Mule. We have a couple of dessert cocktails that are really popular. One of them actually takes the filling from the pie," said Robbins.

For Pie Bar, it's all about making the pies as fresh as possible. It  takes a lot of planning to make sure fresh ingredients are always used. Pie Bar is typically very efficient when it comes to preparing pies, but every so often, there's a chance that an extra pie is leftover and unsold.

"Obviously, we weren't recouping our losses," said Robbins.

And with margins already running thin because of the pandemic, anything sold is a win. That's where ‘Too Good to Go’ comes in.

"We really wanted to try and find a solution that is simple, it’s accessible, and that it’s positive," said Claire Oliverson, Too Good to Go spokesperson.

Too Good to Go is a program and app meant to help both the restaurant owner and customer. Owners get to sell more of their product, that would otherwise go elsewhere.

"The food that you get through the app is the same food that you would get about 15 minutes before closing," said Oliverson.

But you'd get it at a much cheaper price.

"Every surprise bag that you pick up, is going to be about a third of the normal price," said Oliverson.

The surprise bag is the caveat to this. Despite the fact that the food is fresh, the customer doesn't know what they're getting when they pay for it. More than 200 restaurants in the Seattle-area alone take part. And the customer gets to rate the food they received. Rarely is a customer disappointed, said Robbins.

"They don’t know what they’re getting when the get it, but they’re never not happy with it," he said.

For places like Pie Bar, for example, where pies can run more than $30, if a pie becomes available on the Too Good to Go app, you can get it for about $13 or $14. 

"It's a significant markdown," said Robbins.

And as for food waste…

"Too Good to Go has essentially kind of filled the gap to where waste is essentially zero. We don’t have any, which is fantastic.," said Robbins.

The program is currently looking to add more restaurants so that food waste doesn't become a problem anymore.

"If you’re out there in food service, we want to work with you and we want to make that surplus available," said Oliverson.

The app is available for free in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Both the USDA and EPA said they pledge to cut food waste in half by the year 2030. 

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