It’s not new. It’s not a secret. In fact it is quite common: dumpster diving. All of this free food you see above, was free. I finally fulfilled one of my goals in life: to go diving into a dumpster and see what the fuss was really all about. A few weeks back I was invited to join a few divers and I quickly jumped on the experience. I wanted to get right in there and so I did. Right into the dumpster. One of them was kind enough to lend me their gloves.
We met at a well known organic grocery after closing hours and got to work. I wasn’t disappointed. When you hear things like dumpster diving, you conjure up images of disgusting, horrible, smelly whatever and are immediately repulsed. People like me, get excited. As much as I had heard and read about the goods you can find, I definitely didn’t imagine finding this much perfectly good produce and grocery items that could still be eaten. Even with seven of us working the bin, there was way too much for all of us to take home. We left boxes behind and all of us walked away with this amount, give or take a few yogurt tubs and hummus dips that some lucked out on.
It’s not beneath me to jump into a grocery dumpster to get food and eat it. If one argues that it’s dirty – ask: do you know how your food was made (especially processed food), who has handled it and what the facilities looked like before it even landed on the shelves? Personally, I’d rather eat produce from the dumpster than processed food ladened with chemicals. And don’t scoff at the idea, one day our economy might collapse and we’ll all be doing the same thing: looking for food in the garbage. Just because you have a job and a house now doesn’t mean you’re “safe” from poverty. If you’ve ever taken the time to talk to anyone living on the streets, you’ll find they once had a job and a house too.
When I asked a few of the divers with me how long they’ve been doing it, a few said a couple weeks and others said months. They do it weekly and are saving money on their grocery bills. People often look down on people that do this, as though they are better than others. But I’ve watched documentaries about wealthy individuals like Doctors who do the same thing and all for the same reason: not to be wasteful, to save money and to prevent unnecessary items from going to landfill. I’d rather know more people that are trying to prevent waste. There are enough people already who excessively consume without any regard for how it’s being made, who is making it and what it does to our environment.
I often wondered why are so many people in our wealthy city hungry? And now after this, it seems ridiculous that it happens in 2016. Why are people still going without food? Why is there so much food waste? Why are there not better regulations for this? France is banning food waste. Why can’t we? We even have a law that makes it legal for us to donate food if it’s for charitable causes called the Donation of Food Act. Why are there not more compost receptacles on the streets like Vancouver or San Francisco? Why do we live in such a wealthy city that can be the leading game changers for global waste issues, yet we are so slow to accept responsibility and make change?
I know change starts with us and we’re not perfect. No one is. But seeing this much food being wasted (and this is just one day!) and knowing people can’t afford to eat – how is this right? It’s not… so being the weirdo that I am, I’ve been giving away food to people for free. Whenever and where ever I can with whatever I have. I look on Kijiji, Buy Nothing, people on the streets. If I have leftover food someone else is going to enjoy it, I’m delivering or I’m cooking for them. My friend and I are even in the process of making it a website where people can just sign up for free meals or free groceries. We even have the logo designed.
Seriously though, my son and I are only two people. Some days he eats like a teenager but others he eats like a bird. I always feel like I have an abundance of food. I’m seriously blessed to feel this way, knowing many do not. What I spend the majority of my money on in a month is generally good, wholesome and healthy food. Unprocessed, home-cooked and plant-based. And my logic is, if I have food to spare, I’m going to share it.
And speaking of sharing, I just wanted to share with you what I was able to cook with all of this:
- Applesauce with pear
- Carrot cake (my Mom baked this – it wasn’t vegan/gluten-free so I didn’t eat it)
- Veggie lettuce wraps
- Scalloped potatoes
- Baked potato and carrot fries
- Chocolate mango fruit smoothie
- Tofu scramble
- Balsamic maple beets
- Roasted broccoli dipped in hummus
And yes I’m very much still alive.