Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dumpster diving

Saturday night I went dumpster diving with Barry, Ash, Ross and Pete. Barry, Ash and Ross do it all the time, and get pretty much everything they eat from dumpster diving. They basically took us on a tour of the inner northern suburbs, in the van that they live in. Barry was saying it was like being in Bangladesh, because the sky was grey from the bushfires, but the sun was so bright and hot.

The bin at the first place we went to was full of cases of pancake mix. I didn't really want any, because if I was going to make pancakes I'd prefer make them myself out of normal ingredients, rather than using a mixture that's full of preservatives and artificial flavours and stuff, but the guys insisted that I had to take some.
There wasn't any food in the next dumpster we went to, but there were an awful lot of books. I grabbed a heap of hardcover books with Korean writing on them, because I use hardcover books for making journals and sketchbooks to give to people. Also got a paperback copy of Catch 22.
Next we went to a bakery. There was a whole dumpster full of stale bread.

At the next surpermarket we went to, the dumpsters were locked, but they're pretty experienced at opening dumpsters, so we get a whole heap of lamb cutlets, lamb chops, beef steaks and kangaroo, as well as some capsicums and really big bag of pizza bread. While we were getting stuff out of the dumpster a guy and a girl came up to us because they were looking for food as well, so we said that we'd take it back to the van and divide it with them.

We all went to another supermarket across the road and it was unbeliveable how much good food they'd thrown out there. There was a watermelon, three jackfruit, heaps of potatoes, eggplant... We had to put it all in a shopping trolley.

After that we took all the stuff back to the house of the people we met, and divided up what we'd gotten, and ate the watermelon and a sponge cake with them and their housemates. We hung around there for a fair while talking about the ethics of consumption, and when we left one of them gave us a big bag of organic lemons from his mum's lemon tree.
When I got back home with my share of the food, I actually chucked a fair bit of it out again. The others had insisted that I take a whole heap of the pizza bread, and hadn't really gotten that I wouldn't be able to eat it because it's so oily and would make me feel sick. So I had to chuck that out. There was so basil, which still had roots, so I planted that in the herb garden. And there were three capsicums and ten potatoes, which I washed, and will probably cook tomorrow. And there's a loaf of sourdough bread, which I've been using.
I admire that freegans are using a whole heap of stuff that would otherwise be wasted, but I'm not sure that freeganism offers much of a long-term solution to the problem of how much food gets wasted. I think it's good that people are choosing to try and participate as little as they can in the corrupt economy (corrupt because if something isn't sold it's disposed of), but by living off the waste people are still dependant of that corruption. I think it'd probably be better for people to be using freegan tactics, but also growing their own food or consuming responsibly (eg. local and organic products).
But that's just what I reckon. What about you?

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