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New Trend in Startups: Recycling Your Food

shutterstock_22696060Here’s a great opening line for a pitch: “Are you gonna eat that trash?”

This isn’t hipster dumpster diving. A couple of new startups are working on a principle that everyone can support: rerouting wasted food to the hungry. The story pretty much writes itself—Food Cowboy co-founder calls his D.C.-based company “air traffic control for food”, scanning the city for totally edible stuff that’s about to be thrown away, like a box of bananas with a few brown spots.

Americans waste approximately 40% of the food we produce, and a lot of ambitious entrepreneurs find that fact to be both a scandal and a business opportunity.

For example, former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch is starting a market stocked with produce that just expired—it’s perfectly edible, but grocers have to throw it out anyway.

In the case of Food Cowboy, the founder had experience as a trucker tasked with carting just-expired food to the landfill. Finding charities that would accept the haul was difficult, so he set up a network to make it easier for others in his line of work.

For now, most of these startups are side projects, and they need more publicity. Theirs is a compelling story and an easy pitch since it lets journalists explore the truly upsetting fact that Americans waste a whole hell of a lot of food despite the fact that millions of our own can barely afford it.

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