It was late at night; Chad and I were a bit loopy at the time, after having run through sprinklers at a nearby middle school. We were driving home, and I begged him to stop by the back of a certain bakery so I could simply peek in their dumpster. I tiptoed out of the car, opened the lid, and it was empty. Bummer. I went to the next dumpster, and there it was, gleaming like gold. Bagels. Bags of bagels in their original wrapping, right on top. I grabbed them, laughing giddily, and ran back to the car with a devious smile on my face. Ah ha ha, FREE FOOD, that someone was just going to throw away, and I rescued it! I felt such a sense of victory. Since I was on a roll, we then drove past a place with tons of mint growing, (I had scouted it out a few days prior) and with my new expertise, I jumped out of the car, snagged a few lengthy sprigs, and that was that. We came home, and reveled in our loot. Well, at least I did. Chad thought I was uh…psycho…but he doesn’t care, as long as I’m happy. And, I was beaming. I checked the bags, and some were expired, and some weren’t. I chucked the expired ones ofcourse. The next day, I made bagel chips. A few weeks later, I found more, and have since had many bagel sandwiches and bagel mcmuffins.
I’m a 25-year-old bad lady, people!
Let me explain myself. It’s not as bad as you think.
A few months ago I read a book called, The Art of Eating In. LOVED IT! It’s a memoir about a woman in New York who doesn’t eat out for 2 years. No fast food, no restaurants, no pre-maid meals from the grocery store. This is apparently EXTREME NY living. She ends up learning all kinds of things, how to make no-knead bread in a dutch oven, how to forage for wild greens, how to run an underground supper club, how to cook great food in a flash, and how to dumpster dive.
To learn how to dive in the dumpster (not that it’s hard, but there are tips), she went along with a freegan group. The term, freegan, comes from a combination of the word, “free,” because they take food and items from the dumpster, and “vegan.” Not all freegans are vegans, but in general, that is the case. Why do they do dumpster dive? A few reasons. They are anti-consumerism. It’s green. They are using things that have already been made and discarded, instead of buying new. They’re saving things from going in landfills.
Here is why it’s not so gross. Think of all those big grocers out there. They guarantee freshness. In fact, I was just in Safeway the other day and they had tons of big signs in the produce section saying if you buy any produce that isn’t as fresh as you like, you can return it. With their high prices, it’s practically like buying insurance for your food. Well, what happens to an apple with a bruise? It goes in the dumpster. It’s not a bad or moldy apple, but it’s not perfect. What about those sealed salad mixes that have a few wilted leaves? Dumpster. What about 2-day-old bagels? Dumpster. They aren’t moldy, they just don’t have fresh legs. You could say they’re in their late 30’s, but they’re certainly not ready to bite the dust. It’s kind of sad actually. Think of all that food that could go to needy people. The author could understand why freegans do what they do, but she only went dumpster diving once.
So, I’ve been checking around town trying to find grocers that don’t have locked dumpsters. Can you picture me driving around the back of grocery stores, checking out their garbage situation? Unfortunately, all the best candidates like Albertsons and Market of Choice have garbage compactors. Which makes sense. So, you have to find the small establishments. I’ve only found one place that doesn’t lock their dumpster. And, I’ve only gone twice. I really just wanted to try it out, but I may go again. But, maybe I shouldn’t since it’s illegal. Tehe.
But don’t worry, if you ever come to my house (aka, my in-law’s garage) I won’t feed you food from a dumpster. PROMISE.