The Daily Grind and Shred

Anyone who has ever worked in a supermarket and witnessed the sheer volume of unbought, unsellable fruits and vegetables being thrown into the dumpster each night must have thought to himself, “Oh, the humanity.”

But in supermarkets around the country, an elegant, if violent, machine is reducing tons of leftover produce to shreds of vegetable matter that can be used as animal feed or compost instead of landfill fodder.

In “Pulp Fact: Shaw’s Saves by Grinding Veggies” (hey, I don’t write these headlines, I just report them), the Boston Herald reports that the Beantown supermarket chain Shaw’s is testing $15,000, German-made “produce extractors” in its branches.

An extractor is a bit larger than a washing machine. During a two-minute cycle, it grinds the produce much like a garbage disposal and then squeezes out the water before shooting the byproduct into a bag-lined garbage can. The liquid is poured down store drains.

‘There’s a lot of different things you can do with it,’ [Supervalu senior manager of resource conservation and environmental stewardship Tom] McIntyre said of the waste. ‘You can give it to a pig farmer (for food) or somebody who can use it for compost.’

Now if we could just figure out how to get all the Styrofoam, plastic, and cardboard from packaged foods out of the landfill, we’d be set!