I once had a girlfriend who always requested a to-go box for her restaurant leftovers, no matter how much or how little there was to spare. Post meal we would walk around the city, sometimes in aimless circles, before she spotted someone seemingly homeless or poor enough to offer the mystery box of food (e.g. half-eaten falafel). The reactions of these recipients ranged from appreciation to muted revulsion. A new social-networking smartphone app (set to launch at the end of August) that allows you to barter or simply give away your edible leftovers will also get a similar reaction from the public.
The suitably named Leftover Swap, created by two Seattle-based programmers, is hoping to connect hungry and/or curious smartphone users with food that would otherwise go to waste. The idea, as reported by NPR, is that if you have half a sandwich leftover from your lunch, you just take a shot with your smartphone, post it to the apps database, and other app users within the area have the option to trade the food (for maybe another half of a sandwich) or just taking it as a gift, of sorts (oh, and the social component is that you need to meet up to do the exchange).
Dan Newman, one of the two developers of the project, justified the concept to NPR: “[The environmental concern] is a big part of it. There’s a bunch of studies about how much more food we need to produce for the world population by 2050, and how fertilizers are less effective and our current rate of producing food isn’t going to suffice. Meanwhile, in the US we produce so much more food than we consume and so much is going to waste.” Back to my original point; while I like the idea, I can’t help but feeling if it were to work, wouldn’t it work best providing this food to the hungry or food insecure?
So the idea of giving away or trading your leftovers… how does that sit with you? Too gross? Is it a good idea that would be just too difficult to successfully and safely execute? Or will this be the sort of thing that gets us saving food, as opposed to wasting it, and really doing something proactive about food waste and hunger?