We sleep in random people’s houses, thanks to AirBnB, we accept rides from strangers with Lyft, and in Germany, users of a new website are extending that level of trust to food. A filmmaker has created a sort of Craigslist for leftovers called FoodSharing.de. Fry up a little too much schnitzel? This site can connect you with a hungry person who’ll gladly take it off your hands.
The idea of meeting a stranger to take their soft peaches or week-old bread might not sound immediately appealing, but it’s a novel approach to the very serious problem of food waste. Germans throw away 30 percent of their food because it goes bad before they can eat it, the site’s creators say, and most rich countries suffer from the same issues. Last year, we Americans tossed almost 40 percent of our own food.
FoodSharing seems to be making a difference. In a little more than a year, 43,000 people signed up to give and take food on the site. Today in Berlin you can snag some plum wine, in Hamburg you can get a pound of carrots and in Munich you can have some vaguely described “tropical fruit.” One thing that makes FoodSharing different from similar ventures is that, while it is a nonprofit, it is not really a charity. The goal is not just to hand out food to the needy, but to use as much of it as possible. So if you just happen to need an extra couple of eggs for a cake you’re baking, you can head to the site and see what’s on offer.
Interestingly, the program has increased its network without very much oversight. Just as when you decide to buy electronics on Craigslist, the responsibility for what you take from strangers lies with you. In fact, when you create an account with FoodSharing you have to sign off on a clause that says you will not take any legal action against the food providers should anything happen to you.
Though you can’t sue anyone for giving you a bad apple, you can leave ratings. If only we could rate that weirdo who sold us that knockoff iPhone.
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