a 3-course meal...from garbage.

By Paul Michael on 31 March 2007 (Updated 10 June 2007) 9 comments

Dumpster

Why buy groceries, when you can get your weekly shop for free? Many people do it, but there is a catch. Instead of going in to your supermarket through the front door, you have to go to a different department. The dumpster.

It's estimated that the US alone throws away roughly $100 billion in food every year. And most of it is perfectly edible. It's a crying shame, and it's the reason Freeganism is becoming more and more popular in the US and western Europe.

In the more indepth follow-up to this article, I'll cover the many factors involved in Freeganism and what it means to live life the Freegan way. But to whet your appetite, here's some quick footage from CBC following a few people who take food from the dumpster and make great food from it. What a society we live in when people are starving on one street corner and they're throwing food away on the next.

 

 

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Andrea Karim's picture

But I think I'm going to have to sum it all up with "Ew."

I don't throw much out because I feed it to my dogs. I know we waste a lot, especially in America, but there really has to be a better way than dumpster diving.

Guest's picture
Guest

I've always known that food is good past the sell by date, but I would rather salvage my dignity and drop a few extra bucks to get the newer food. There should be a system that puts food up for free for a couple days after the sell by date. 90 percent of people would not use it, and those who needed to would be able to.

Guest's picture
Guest

Several years back (hmm.. about 7) I worked/ volunteered for a summer in Inner City Denver and for two mornings a week would help out at a food bank that collected donated food from all the large grocery stores in the city. Not only did no one have to go dumpster diving to get the past the due date food... but the stores willingly allowed the bank to take the food. Heck, they even expected the weekly pickup and set stuff aside. This alleviates the collectors from any possibly run ins with the law (since, if I recall, I think private businesses' dumpsters are technically still their property... but I might be wrong) while also lowering the "ew" factor.

They collected everything from candy, soda, boxes of produce, bread, canned foods, etc and brought it back to a warehouse where it was sorted and stored. (For example, two weeks spent at the warehouse, we sorted boxes of tomatoes. The smell of rotten tomatoes sticks with you... but just think of the pounds of free healthy vegetables people got!) Then once a week the food bank would go out to a designated parking lot, an Office Max or something, and hand out well balanced grocery bags of food for whomever wanted one, along with dishing out a free hot lunch. Pretty much it's what Freeganism is about, except on a larger scale AND not just for "themselves".
Sure, it took quite some planning and polite asking (getting support from local stores and also the store that allowed them to distribute in their parking lot), some upstart (they had a warehouse, several trucks for pickups, etc) and not to mention volunteers to go this scale. But something similar could be done ANYWHERE. And just think of the good it did for the community as well as the volunteers (who gladly partook of needed groceries) all on "old" and past dated groceries... PRICELESS!

Now, if only I could remember the name of the food bank...

Andrea Karim's picture

Asking stores for the food is one thing - I can totally imagine doing that. I totally admire the work you went to help people out.

Paul Michael's picture

...how much do you know about Freeganism and are you available for an interview? I live in Denver too.

Guest's picture
Christine

Having worked in the bakery section of a grocery store, we had to throw away all of our out-dated products. The day before, they would be marked down to 50%, but the day they went out, they had to be thrown away. I asked about donating them, but was told that if they donated out-dated food and someone got sick on it, they could then sue the store.

Paul Michael's picture

...when we can 't give hungry people food for fear they may sue the hand that feeds them. How about a consent form? Agree not to sue should the food be bad.

Guest's picture
Tres Lobo Wingo

Freeganism isn't helping anyone... Well, anyone but the people being cheap and consuming what people eat in the food courts for free. Just because they wait til the food gets thrown out does not make them anyless of a consumer than the average person. Why not go earlier to that same business and purchase the goods while they're still "good...?" I don't agree with wastig food, but there have to be better ways than becoming scavengers and not paying for someone's hard work. If everyone did that, there would be no stores to loot from, and Freeganism would not exist. If it is Altruism people are seeking, then why not spend a little more time fighting for the poor that can not afford these left-overs in their intended restaurants instead of being knee high in the filth of their own greed for a life that is neither beneficial or respectible. Freeganism is just another way of weaning off of society while damning its nature...

Guest's picture

Frugal living is one way of adopting to the misuse of resources and over wasting of foods. I think what we need is proper waste management and a recycle way of treating leftovers. In this way, overspending on less important things may be decreased for a more wise buying decision.