Friday, March 20, 2009


I have decided that with my 'official today' local employment as a culinary instructor, and having to adjust my schedule to cook for my household; that I will be posting articles here and there on 'eating' issues and other food related content. That is...until I get into the flow of things, so I am hoping that does not bore I am a food nerd and love talking, reading, listening to food related topics. Be not read this many hours before your most lovely meals, or long after...

Dumpster Diving-

Have I been living under a rock of sorts since never having heard this term before, 'Dumpster Diving'; it has got me to laughing, or others outraged. Some materials I have 'dug up' to read (sorry puns dot this page) about actual vegan's or just hungry people in California squatting outside of restaurants, bakeries, or markets next to their dumpsters and waiting for discards of the day, week, month to be tossed (I might toss at the smell of a dumpster) as a way to cut back on the huge amounts of waste we have in America. Could it be they want to help or is it an easy way to get out of working and earning a living like most do around the country?

After working in the food industry on all ends and seeing what waste is thrown out because health regulations does not allow it to sit over a certain period of time, or the fact that upper management is just not good at creating a proper waste management program within their system. I would say I am on the fence with the issue, but where the heck have I been? This all started the other night when I had nothing to eat before my open mic.

Afterward a number of us were meeting up at a local pub for St. Paddy's day. I assumed they would have food, since they do most of the time. With time constraints our arrival time was not until after 9 PM, and we discovered all they had were 'on the spot' sliced corn beef sandwiches on rye. That was it! Lots of alcohol and no food are not a good combo, but I encouraged a few to share a sandwich to help line our stomachs with food before drinking. One of the new guys announced "Well I dumpster dive now and then, so I am in". I was intrigued, and being a woman of writing words and poetry I asked him what he meant. I found out that this saying has been around for years...

These days, or at least in his circles it mainly refers to a 'vegan who if hungry enough will take whatever they can get before starving'. Finding no updated or printed information other than this, I felt I had to share to see what many of you thought out there...

FOOD OPTIONS: How to Dumpster Dive By Ded Bolt

From the August Issue of the Indypendent, 2002

Dumpster diving is a liberating act. You can find all the necessities of life in the trash. When poking around in the waste of our consumer society, I'm likely to find fresh organic coconuts, roasted garlic hummus, bagels, soy ice cream (partially melted) and many other tasty goodies. A tip for finding the best dumpsters is to check the phone book and keep and eye out for wholesale distributors. Many grocers will discard more than enough nightly to feed the average family. In most of the world, things are discarded because they are no longer useful or edible. In this country, goods are discarded when they are no longer profitable, no matter that many people struggle to feed themselves. Some foods are cooked or baked for same-day sale. Grocery stores discard produce with minor blemishes, and in many cases fruits are discarded just as they begin to ripen. Food is usually trashed once it has reached its expiration or sell-by date, which is often arbitrary. Foods damaged during shipping or stocking are often fresher than what remains on the shelves. The Environmental Protection Agency has rated dumpster diving (or source reduction and reuse) as the best environmental strategy for dealing with municipal solid waste. Yet in 1999, the U.S. wasted more than 25 million tons of food, approximately .5 pounds of food per person per day, compared to .3 pounds in 1960.

Dumpstering is not an option for everyone. Nor is it any more a revolutionary act than dropping out and living in the wilderness or eating a vegan diet. It neither supports the system of hierarchy and oppression nor threatens it. However, for many dumpstering is a small part of an environmentally conscious lifestyle. Practiced in conjunction with squatting, it makes possible a life free of work and money. The more we liberate ourselves, the more we are able to help others. Mr. Bolt is an anarchist who’s been active in Food Not Bombs, The Mutual Support Network and More Gardens Coalition.

After sorting through articles I discovered yet another word I had not heard before and it is a term developed from this dumpstering genre of eaters now referred to as 'Free-gans'...they say don't let the expiration date fool you, often the stuff is perfectly fine. If in doubt, smell it... Dumpstering can be something someone does on the spur of the moment if they see a useful item being thrown away, a conscious life style choice as part of "freeganism", or an acquired skill by those who may not have many other options economically to obtain needed goods or food.

I will have to publicly admit I have been 'curbing', or rummaging through items such as discarded furniture, electronics, appliances, lamps, books, and clothing are all common items to be found, but mostly furniture that I can refinish for my art. Many people hate to see useful things being discarded, and you know what they say "Another mans trash is someone else's feast"?