Last night, Eric and I decided to try some new territory in our dumpster diving adventures; we went for a couple of spots that had been mentioned to us as having a tendency to be locked. It turns out that these two stores had locked fences, but open dumpsters. And thankfully, they were an easy hop, at least for an enthusiastic Freegan couple with a penchant for climbing things.
The resulting haul was huge (click the pics for a huge-er peek), and mostly from one of the two grocery retailers we checked out. The abundance was overwhelming; my first tendency is to yell, "Score!!!". But I soon realized how the whole thing was equal parts exciting and mentally devastating. The whole time we were cleaning, arranging and photographing the food, I kept saying, "This is insane."
For me, just the sheer waste was a sign of the craziness of our society and the ineffectiveness of our economic system. There was probably around 80 pounds (if not more) of perfectly edible meat (as well as a lot of of beautiful fruit and chesses): well packaged and still-cold packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fully cooked smoked salmon, thinly sliced beef sirloin and two whole chickens. Each little pack (usually around a pound or two or three of meat, my guess) was priced around $10. Their "crime"? (As my mother would say.) They were expiring that day or the next. Now, an expiration date is a suggestion, not a ticking clock on a rotting time-bomb. Why throw away perfectly good meat that could have been given away (and which will now, thankfully, be given away) ? It is likely that this particular store was overstocked and/or that meat sales are particularly down at this point in time. Meat that is close to the "suggestion date" is not likely to be bought by picky consumers and therefore, is not profitable. Better make room for fresher, more "in-demand" product!
The second insanity is the state of mind promoted by a consumer- (and profit-) driven system. A state of mind that says the locking up of and barbed-wire protection of trash (albeit perfectly edible trash) is an acceptable practice just doesn't make sense! It is such an unhealthy sign of the state of things that we have to sneak around like little kids breaking into a toy store just to liberate food that belongs to the people of this planet. I have literally had management tell me before (not anytime recently, thankfully) that I was "stealing [their] garbage". What?!? 1. You've thrown it away as an unwanted possession; 2. Food is a shared necessity that should be freely available to those with the need for it; 3. Waste is a costly, dangerous and pointless thing! We should make use of it as best we can. Try telling that to well-trained employee of a mega-corporation. You'd be better off cooperating and moving on to try your luck somewhere else. Some people don't want to change their minds.
Enjoy this well done video of my friend Ashwyn showing off the insanity to an Australian nightly news reporter.