Food Waste in America – The Beauty in Ugly Food


As much as 40 percent of all the food produced in the United States never gets eaten and typically ends up in landfills or goes unharvested in the field, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Megan Burritt, Aspen Institute First Mover Fellow and director of sustainability and wellness at Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, saw an opportunity to address this issue, developing pathways that connect fresh food waste in the supply chain with food insecure consumers. This led the company to design a new program, dubbed “Real Good” produce, to sell imperfect fruits and vegetables to food insecure customers, at a highly discounted price. Learn more about this program here:


Decreasing Food Waste Through the Real Good Produce Program


Megan Burritt is Raley’s Supermarkets Director of Wellness and Sustainability. Passionate about creating sustainable food systems and bringing good, clean food to the everyday American, Meg has lived every link in the food chain, from working on the farm to line cooking to category management. Meg attended Stanford as an undergrad, majoring in Human Biology, and is a graduate of Presidio Graduate School where she obtained an MBA in Sustainable Management. As a 2014 First Movers Fellow with the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, Meg continues to learn and grow as an innovator. First Movers is a group of exceptional innovators in business who are creating new products, services and management practices that achieve greater profitability and positive social and environmental impacts. Meg lives in beautiful Curtis Park, Sacramento where she enjoys baking, riding bikes and spending time with her veterinarian wife, Amanda, and their family of rescue animals. Twitter – LinkedIn –


Raley’s Supermarkets (also known as Raley’s Family of Fine Stores) is a privately held, family-owned, regional grocery chain that operates stores under the Raley’s, Bel Air Markets, Nob Hill Foods, and Food Source names in northern California and Nevada. Raley’s operates 128 stores, 40 of them in the Greater Sacramento area and employs around 13,400 workers today. Headquartered in West Sacramento, California, Raley’s is the dominant supermarket operator in the Sacramento metropolitan area.


“Up to 40% of the food that we grow here in America is often wasted before it gets to the consumer. That’s the high end of the statistic, but it really is mind boggling when you think about that much food that we’re putting resources into growing, that isn’t getting into the hands of people who would like to eat it.”

“At Raley’s we do still have some produce waste because some of it just goes off while it’s waiting to be purchased at the grocery store. And we actually divert from the landfill. We send all of our produce waste to an anaerobic bio-digester where it becomes essentially compost and then natural gas energy.”

“We are used to selling only one type of very perfectly shaped, sized, and colored fruits and vegetables in conventional grocery stores. So to go out here with this what people sometime call “ugly produce” we were taking a little bit of a risk. But we did see a really positive reception with our consumers that they understand that every fruit and vegetable is unique and it’s still nutritious and delicious no matter what it looks like.”

“People don’t realize that the food sector is the largest producer of greenhouse gasses of all our sectors, including transportation. So if you have an industry that’s wasting 40% of its effort, there’s this huge opportunity to reduce waste, to reduce environmental impacts, to reduce greenhouse gas impacts, at the same time reduce food costs [and] deal with issues of food insecurity. So across the board it’s just vitally important work.”

in the Sacramento metropolitan area.


Aspen Institute

Aspen Institute – First Movers Fellowship Program

Raley’s Supermarkets

PBS News Hour Video on Food Waste

Presidio Graduate School

Local Government Commission


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