Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Dumpster diving: Good or bad?

Apparently MSNBC thinks it's a good thing.

I still say that eating food out of the trash is not something I could do unless I was starving and homeless.

Which, at the rate our healthcare system is declining, could be a year from next Tuesday.


boredmedstudent said...

Wow.. these dumpster divers must have great immune systems, or are developing them as we speak.

Sarah said...

Lars Eighner (author) claimed that, when he Dumpster dived for food in warmer weather, he got dysentery on a regular basis.

I'm all for turning somebody's trash into my treasure, but that goes only so far. I'll just keep going to my nice, clean garden for my vegetables and some of my fruit, thanks.

911DOC said...

what we need is a government grant and program to teach how people to do this SAFELY... oh wait, there is one and it's very compassionate... never mind.

Dedicated_Dad said...

In my misspent 'Yoot I lived "anchored out" on a sailboat off Sausalito. One of the other guys used to come up with a truckload off food from groceries in the area.

Bags of potatoes with a few sprouted eyes. Big bags of chips 1 day past their "best by" date. All sorts of produce. Meat that had just been tossed, etc.

What these articles aren't telling you is that stores have schedules. Example: The meat is tossed in the morning, when the butchers get rolling at ~7AM. All the stuff that's been in the case for a few days is tossed out.

Figure out these schedules, and you're getting stuff that's just fine but no longer "pristine." People won't buy steak when it's not as bright-red as the one next to it, so the store tosses it in the dumpster. It's sick, really...

Likewise, bread. Most bakeries don't take it back -- if it's there the next day, it goes in the trash.

If the bag or other packaging is broken, and it hadn't been sitting in the sun, I'd have no qualms about eating it.

Another story: A local guy started a 503c non-profit and made arrangements with local stores to haul off this sort of stuff.

Within a year he needed big trucks and a warehouse to deal with it all. The stores wanted the deduction instead of trashing it, and he supplied food banks all over a 150+ mile radius.

I haven't eaten "freecycled" food in many years, but wouldn't hesitate to do so if money got tight. It's more a "self-respect" thing than any valid health concern...


Me said...

I thought people got fined for that? It's illegal around here, has been for years.

EE said...

I just ordered a poop strong mug...

This makes me very happy.

Anonymous said...

The think is, there are places such as grocery stores or even restaurants that will throw food away still in the package, such as donuts, too much extra, etc. I'm sure the city and general area in which a person lives - er sits on the sidewalk, can make quite a difference.

I haven't looked at that article yet, but can say it's amazing what a person will do when hungry enough.

Of course, every system abuser knows what it takes to get 3 hots and cot, so why dig in the trash when all that "free" care is available.

CrankyProf said...

What? It's recycling!

If you really caaaaared about Mother Gaia and the environment, you'd be eating out of the trash, too. And living in a (thrice-recycled) cardboard box, with no heat, and lit by a single environmentally-friendly, green light bulb.

It's all about reducing your carbon footprint, so politicians can have more carbon credits to fly all over the damn place spewing more hot air.

Wait...is my cynicism showing again?

DK said...

I didn't take food, but I did get 4 free airline tickets from airtran a while back when Wendy's did their Airtran promotion. You would get a free round trip ticket for every 64 marked Wendy's cups. My friends and I got over 700 in 4 nights of dumpster diving at the various Wendy's around town.

Fun was had for all. I haven't been dumpster diving since tho.

RehabNurse said...


No one has to dumpster dive in most of our town now. Food pantries get the food that's out of date donated directly and it goes to feed the hungry.

They had to change state laws to do this, so the companies aren't liable for the food after it's donated.

If it's packaged, and it's good, depending on what it is, I'll eat it.

Meat can only be sold during a certain time period here. The "bloom" or red color normally disappears in three days on hamburger, which is not gas packed (those fancy, tight package wraps-which deplete all the oxygen in the package) which is why it often gets tossed.

One of my friends dumpster dived for many years and is still alive. He was also big about following a schedule and bringing a cooler of ice.

Soupdaloup Design Works said...

Personally I think these "freegans" as they call themselves are steal food from the actual homeless people who rely on it. Go to the grocery store like everyone else. Don't turn your stinginess or inability to budget into a social movement.

Anne said...

Actually it sounds like these people are doing it as a 'statement,' not out of necessity. Which makes me think that 'freegans' are probably as self-righteous as vegans (with the exception of one, all the vegans I've ever known have been totally bat-shit insane and "more principled than thou.") And they're totally moving in on the homeless' turf. Props to Soup and CrankyProf.

Joeymom said...

Crankyprof! Back, Satan! You allow yourself a LIGHTBULB? Don't you know that lightbulbs are the work of Beelzebub? You must light your cardboard box as God intended, by poking a hole in its top, so that His good clean sunshine and moonshine can enter your space!

Or have I been watching too much Blackadder?

Anonymous said...

I don't dumpster dive for food [can't go that far], but I am willing to check out things left by the dumpster in myperfectly working 27" screen tv there, several lamps I use, an office chair, a rice cooker, a mountain bike, book shelves and stuff like that. It's things I've thought about getting for myself at some times or I need [like the chair] and if I can't use it I find someone I know who can. And if someone from here doesn't use it, a junk hauler comes by every now and then and gets rid of it.

I am constantly amazed what folks just throw out without even making an effort to get it to a thrift shop or something.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the above. Cat nudged my elbow as I was posting. I'm not normally that disjointed - really.