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Is it worth buying groceries at a steep discount if they have a shorter shelf life? A new grocery store in Dorchester is finding out. It opened its doors Thursday with shelves full of surplus and aging food.
Called Daily Table, the nonprofit grocery store just outside of Codman Square is selling canned vegetables two for $1, a dozen eggs for 99 cents, and potatoes at 49 cents a pound.
"That’s good. It’s cheap!" Noemi Sosa says, marveling at the prices that for Boston are phenomenally low. Most of the stock is donated by food wholesalers and markets. It either didn’t sell, or it’s surplus.
"As you can see right here we’ve got a pile of bananas at 29 cents a pound," explains Doug Rauch, the former Trader Joe's president who founded Daily Table. "They’re Chiquita bananas, there’s no little black spots on them. Those probably have another three or four days before you start to go, ‘Oh, banana bread!’"
Rauch was frustrated by the amount of nutritious food that went into dumpsters at Trader Joe's just because it was nearing its sell-by date. Meanwhile, millions of people don’t eat very well. But Rauch had to fight the critics, who said he was just dumping food rejected by rich people on the poor.
"It’s been a long time coming," he says.
Checking out with the cashier, customer Manuel Goncalves admits he surveyed the expiration dates before putting food in his basket.
"I looked around, I saw the date. I saw the food being prepared in the back and I felt comfortable to come back and buy as much as I can," he says.
For just over $30, Goncalves walked out what looks like enough groceries to feed his family for a week.
Besides selling staples, Daily Table is also cooking up prepared meals on a rotating menu.
"The recipes have to change every day because the donations change every day," explains Ismail Samad, the head kitchen chef.
Samad says even though the food is not as new as what’s in the supermarket, that doesn’t mean it’s bad.
"The top of the kale might be getting a little light green, we cut that off and sauté it up," he says.
Samad hopes customers in Dorchester eat it up. If they do, founder Doug Rauch wants to expand this model to other cities across the country.
More photos from Daily Table's opening day:
This segment aired on June 4, 2015.