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Freegans & Dumpster Diving


chezcherie
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While an interesting article, I think these so called high-minded, self congratulating, sanctimonious individuals are a merely a modern recreation of the old fashioned "hobo" ... :hmmm:

and I doubt that they even consider that there are numerous "food banks" who also inherit, and distribute, unused, uneaten foods to those requiring assistance..

There is a bit of a nonsensical argument framed here ...

But freegans already have chosen, in a way, to be outlaws from mainstream society. They reject capitalism and try to live outside it, some avoiding money altogether.

They are the underground resistance to over-consumption. Many who professionally study the larger social and environmental issues have never heard of the word "freegan," though they share similar ideas.

So, forgive and overlook my cynicism but this article smacks of something of which I am exceedingly skeptical ... :huh:

But wait just a moment, this article is dated May 27, 2003 and,perhaps, by now they have seen the error of their thinking and are law-abiding taxpaying citizens who have registered to vote in the upcoming election ... :rolleyes: or maybe they are still chewing on those dry aging donuts ...and grousing about "the system is inherently destructive" ... :hmmm:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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the article seems to place 'freegan' at the center of DIY culture, which is really kind of backwards. DIY culture is big. very big. I'm in college right now, and DIY is a movement on the rise. It makes for very responsible twenty somethings, which I applaud in any form.

~m

"The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom."

---John Stewart

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GG, one of the NYC tabs ran an article about freegans about a month ago (they didn't have it on-line, I wanted to post it). The difference is that many of New Yorkers who do it are just plain cheap.

I find it hard to believe these people never get sick from scavenging. Afterall, some food is tossed because it's not fit consumption.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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GG, one of the NYC tabs ran an article about freegans about a month ago (they didn't have it on-line, I wanted to post it).  The difference is that many of New Yorkers who do it are just plain cheap.

I find it hard to believe these people never get sick from scavenging.  Afterall, some food is tossed because it's not fit consumption.

I think it is mostly always about being "just plain cheap". This assumes there are no spouses or kids involved as well ...

As for spoilage, dumpsters, aside from the rodents, bugs, and vermin (who often inhabit them), are not known for their temperature controlled environments: hot in summer and freezing in winter ...

As I said earlier, I am not impressed with it even being termed "a movement".

latest update on Freegans ... :wink:

They're not homeless, and they have jobs. They call themselves freegans, and though some fill their fridges with food from garbage bins to save money, many choose not to buy food for philosophical reasons. .....Greenwich Village Gristede's, says the store throws out only food that is no longer edible. But during one tour, the freegans find still-usable wrapped cheese sticks, sealed cottage cheese, bread, croissants and even peach cobbler outside the supermarket.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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This is very much reminding me of my first visit to Reed College, Portland, OR, circa 1978-79 to visit my sister. She, a frosh, subscribed to the dorm/college meal plan thing. I remember well that back then, there was the group of Reedies who stood at the place where you took your tray after you were done, and they scavanaged. So, what is old is new. Waste not want not.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I've known some waitstaff to do this occasionally with half-finished plates sent back to the kitchen. Mainly so they could save money for more important things. Like, that eight-ball of cocaine... :wacko:

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Tearing apart garbage bags to see what's inside really helps the rat population grow..........

Not giving anyone six dollars for organically raised food, "because they might use it to go to McDonalds" is the biggest load of self-serving crap I've heard all month.

Oh, and one does not "brew" apple cider..............

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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i don't know, i think the idea is gross but i appreciate lives led differently than my own. if people want to enjoy the liberty of eating garbage, why should my values preclude that?. . .

over the years, i've employed a number of young people who have worked very hard to work very little. i employed one guy who limited the number of his showers because he didn't want to pay for water (no, he didn't smell.) i've had to require that all employees have working phone numbers. in most cases, their thinking tries to reject an earn money/spend money cycle. yup, a lot of these folks are vegans (and musicians!). they haunt thrift stores, some dumpster dive, some couch surf. all of them have been registered to vote, though i doubt if many have filed their taxes.

it's always been a treat to seduce a vegan into carnivorousness. (use bacon, folks--if you're going to win a vegan over, the best way to do it is with bacon.) i suppose tempting the virtuous in this way isn't very nice of me, but better than calling people names. :unsure:

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i appreciate lives led differently than my own. 

it's always been a treat to seduce a vegan into carnivorousness.

Aren't these diametrically opposing statements, whippy? :huh:

One says something to the effect of "live and let live" while the second implies that being carnivorous is something people should aspire to and become ..

I just don't get it ... :hmmm:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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My disdain has much public health philosophy behind it........but then there's also the aesthetic: Food is meant to be shared and savored and anticipated> What about the dumpster leads one down this path?

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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Do you believe free rotting food, or free contaminated food, leads one to an educated palate and an appreciation of the gentle pleasures of the table?

I suspect it's the reverse: Reduce the satiation of hunger to a revolting experience enough times and one despises hunger - or any desire - because of the consequences.

I call it an eating disorder wrapped in sanctimony.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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Do you believe free rotting food, or free contaminated food, leads one to an educated palate and an appreciation of the gentle pleasures of the table?

I suspect it's the reverse: Reduce the satiation of hunger to a revolting experience enough times and one despises hunger - or any desire - because of the consequences.

I call it an eating disorder wrapped in sanctimony.

Well said, Susan G, and it confirms what I have basically contended throughout this thread ... eat as you wish but please spare me the endless "justifications" for what you do ...

I like the one about "during the days, these freegans hold real jobs" .. and after a night digging in the dumpsters, does one still get up and look hearty and hale, well-rested and chipper, for the day's work ahead? :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I saw a French movie (subtitled) a few years ago that examined scavenging. As I recall they examined three people closely. One group went into the fields after harvests, but the others were divers/scavengers. I believe the movie is called "The Gleaners" -- I am not sure if this is the title or the translation of the title. The movie is really interesting and compelling.

I wonder if the person in the article who eats sweet rolls goes to the free clinic, and the physician tells him to stay away from so much rich food.

Edited by boulak (log)
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I call it an eating disorder wrapped in sanctimony.

Beautiful line.

(I came back to edit and add a 'smilie' so that my intent would be clear, but there just is not a smilie that would work on this one....)

Can someone invent a word for a person that sits reading a thread with their mouth sort of intellectually hanging open in shock and taken-abackness and disbelief and almost-laughing but not? For that is me, here, reading of freegans.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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But wait, folks, there is yet more on this fascinating topic:

right here! :shock:

Freeganism, also known as ethical eating, voluntary simplicity, monetary minimalism, the ultimate boycott, etc is fun and easy. Here are some basic tips:

Strategy:

Dumpster Diving! - The best, easiest way to to get the most food.

Give-Aways! - A lot of small, independent places and even some bigger stores will give you food

Also, free lunches and soup kitchens! Make sure you aren't taking food from someone who really needs it

Plate scraping/Table-Diving - Go in a restaurant and either ask a worker if you can eat plate scraps or just sit with a drink

Scams/Shoplifting - There are a slew of shady ways to score free food...

Bold font is, of course, mine ... :hmmm:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I just don't get it ...

i don't see the issue as being so black and white. what these folks are doing is creating a humorous-but-serious critique of overconsumption.

is it really such a bad thing to criticize wasted food in a world where people go hungry?

i think the freegan websites are funny. while they won't entice me anytime soon to sup from a landfill (which is a livelihood for folks all around the world) i can allow that others might choose to do so. i could even maintain a friendly relationship with them.

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i followed a link from freegan.info to a USDA report published in 1997 here

it found that in 1995 approximately 96 BILLION pounds of edible food in the U.S. was lost to human consumption. that represents fully 27% of available edible food!

the USDA reports that:

"on average, each american consumes about 3 pounds of food each day. if even 5% of the 96 billion pounds were recovered, that quantity would represent the equivalent of a day's food for each of 4 million people."

i think this is pretty interesting stuff, and it seems to be at the heart of what the freegans are getting at. whether or not the freegans are simply co-opting such a finding to "justify their laziness" is beside the point (for me at least) in consideration of the bigger picture they're highlighting: hungry people/wasted food.

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When I was a young 'un living in Vancouver (back in my punk days) I did a certain amount of dumpster diving. It was a pretty straightforward proposition: I had a very modest budget to live on, and food that I got for free meant that I could eat better.

Now, there is dumpster food and there is dumpster food. I was never up for somone's half-eaten Kentucky Fried, for example; but there was a specific KFC that quite often threw out product at the end of their night; just the right time for a nocturnal kid like myself. And then there was the traditional weekend "run" to Granville Island Market, a longstanding if little-publicised Vancouver tradition. I don't know if this is still the case (I haven't been there for a long time); but on Sundays IIRC all and sundry would congregate at GIM for the weekly discarding of produce which would not make it through the market's off day.

There's certainly little to say against grabbing (for example) a flat of papayas which are getting soft and brown on one side. Cut off the bad side, grab a spoon, and enjoy the good side! That's just old-fashioned frugality. I've also taken the racks of two or three fish, still in the bags of ice they'd inhabited previously, and made chowder.

I never had the chutzpah to build any sort of ideology out of this. I had more appetite than money, and this helped me to make ends meet. End of story.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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This is very much reminding me of my first visit to Reed College, Portland, OR, circa 1978-79 to visit my sister.  She, a frosh, subscribed to the dorm/college meal plan thing.  I remember well that back then, there was the group of Reedies who stood at the place where you took your tray after you were done, and they scavanaged.  So, what is old is new.  Waste not want not.

Scroungers. A long standing reed tradition. I have, at times, participated.

"The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom."

---John Stewart

my blog

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This is very much reminding me of my first visit to Reed College, Portland, OR, circa 1978-79 to visit my sister.  She, a frosh, subscribed to the dorm/college meal plan thing.  I remember well that back then, there was the group of Reedies who stood at the place where you took your tray after you were done, and they scavanaged.  So, what is old is new.  Waste not want not.

HAHA! I still go to Reed College (I'm on the on again, off again six year plan... :wink: ), and the scavengers you describe defintely still exist, in full effect. They're called "scroungers." They consist of the people that live off-campus and don't have board plans. I've actually never been able to get myself to scrounge... but pretty much everyone does it at some point, and if you walk into the dining hall, there is almost always a line of half-empty plates left out on a shelf for scroungers.

:laugh:

"There is no worse taste in the mouth than chocolate and cigarettes. Second would be tuna and peppermint. I've combined everything, so I know."

--Augusten Burroughs

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While it grosses me out no end, I cannot criticize these people. I'll ignore their self-righteous pontificating about being worried that someone selling tofu products will spend the money at McDooDoo's, thinking that Working Sucks, and just let them have their lifestyle.

It takes all kinds.

I personally am more disgusted by throwing out food than I am by people who choose to eat what we don't. If it doesn't bother them, why on earth should it bother ANYONE?

Reluctantly (but only for the gross-out factor), I say "right on, dudes." Unless there is something inherently noble in being so privileged to live in a nation where we throw out enough food to feed a few small countries. And I bet we do.

Repeat: right on, dudes. Now come and clean out my refrigerator: I have a collection of failed (taste-wise, not contaminated) condiments that will pep up your, um, nocturnal noshing.

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  • 1 month later...

Her's another freegan story from the Houston Press. This being Thanksgiving here in the US, when we celebrate the bounty of the year, it seems an appropriate revival.

Part of this story focuses on their efforts to feed the homeless with found food. The terms used above, "sanctimonius" and "self-righteous" do often seem to fit, as well as unrealistic. At one point a "can of meat" which, if unopened and undamaged was likely the most sanitary and "safe" find of the dumpster dig, is discarded due to the vegan stance. I suspect very few of the homeless lined up to eat that day would have rejected it out of hand. And it's clear to me why an establishment would "protect" its garbage and garbage areas. I imagine all dumpster divers aren't fastidous, so garbage will be strewn about and have to be cleaned up again, at best an annoyance. Then there's the obvious safety and liability issues: dumpsters are repositories for things other than food, as pointed out in the article, which may cause injury directly or indirectly -- broken glass, chemicals, etc. Add spoilage and the years old sludgy residue coating nearly every dumpster I've been near, and I must conclude that eating food from a dumpster isn't just gross, it can be dangerous.

I guess what bothers me about their position is that it is the very system they don't wish to participate in is that makes their position possible, and allows them to be aloof and scornful and parasitic all at the same time. Certainly there are ways in which we as a people fail another in many many areas, including food production and distribution, and we can do better. But these absolutist notions about what is "right" in food and what is "wrong" when stretched to hysterical hyperbole will eventually render you without credibility in my mind. It's our wealth and our ability to produce beyond our needs without noticable shortage or delay that makes what is a daily struggle for survival for so many people in this world into a counter-culture pat themselves on the back for these folks.

Have a good holiday if that's what today is for you, and if not then please have a good ole' thursday.

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