Hedonistically Freegan Vegan

Brooklyn, United States

Hi! I'm a native New Yorker who loves writing, traveling and angora bunnies. My favorite thing in the world, however, is eating. This is the primary reason why I blog about restaurants and food, duh. Better hide your snacks when I come for a visit!


So trashy

Jan 19, 2023 1 year ago

Cans of blueberry preserves, boutique, small-batch handmade bon-bons, organic wildflower honey with comb and Icelandic yogurt --- what do all these items have in common? I found all these items and more in the trash. It's no secret that I love trash. No, I don't mean the smelly, stinky and meant-to-be-actually-dumped kind of trash. The trash that comes from the pursuit of perfect capitalism (which, as it turns out, is anything but). My love of everything dumpster started a month before COVID19 did, just in time too. What's a better way to spend time than rescuing food, outside; a totally harmless and productive activity during a worldwide pandemic? The word "rescue" doesn't really sum up the breadth of what I would find and donate to one of many "community fridges" in my neighborhood. Still, it gives you an idea: I plunge my (usually) gloved hands into the womb of a typical black polyethylene 10 gallon bag, sometimes immaculately and serendipitously free of actual trash and full of boxes, cans or containers of various types of bougie foods, other times, not-so-immaculate. Here's an exhaustive list of items I can remember finding: -Jacques Torres 40-piece bonbon boxes -free-range, organic eggs by the dozen, in bulk boxes of around 10 cases per box -Siggi's, Chobani, Skyr, Fage yogurts (all types and flavors) -egg white omelets, ready-to-eat -all kinds of canned food (including organic beans, coconut milk, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie filling, even dog food) -olive, coconut, macadamia, canola, sunflower oils -multivitamins, elderberry supplements, manuka honey cough syrup -vegan cheeses, tofu, tempeh, beyond meat, hot dogs, yogurt, tofurky (I remember this specifically since I eat all these as a vegan!) -pantry items: cases of all purpose King Arthur flour, Bob's Red Mill flours (teff, coconut, rice, risotto, oatmeal), crackers, snacks, chips, baking mixes, yeast) -prepared foods like pizzas, breads, sandwiches, wraps, Mediterranean meals (grape leaves, falafel, tabbouleh etc) The list goes on, but I won't since I think you kind of get an idea already. Everyone always asks me why I started dumpstering (sic) and I can pinpoint it to one moment: my craving for overpriced (read: bougie) French bread. I had to have it, I didn't want to pay for it. That's when I remembered: as a high schooler working at a bagel shop, I used to have to dump out all the end-of-the-day bagels and pizzas into the trash. Back then, I would cringe whenever I had to do this and actually enlisted my mother to come by for the bagels and pizzas to give out to our friends and family. When that became too much, I would sell them for $1 each in band class. I turned a pretty good profit, too: students are always hungry, which was great for business! So, I applied the same reasoning to the French bread. They must dump their breads out at the end of the day, right? Lo and behold, I visited their dumpster and found a bevy of boulangerie by the bag: baguettes, pastries, cookies, even cake, which I sadly couldn't eat as a vegan, but which I posted to my local Buy Nothing group to the delight of ecstatic carb lovers in my group! After that, I became galvanized to rescue not just bread, but anything and everything edible I could salvage. The waste was not only depressing, it angered me since the media was broadcasting about how there were food and supply shortages, specifically on flour, sanitizer and toilet paper. I was able to find all three in the trash on separate occasions (especially flour, which I found bags and bags of several times). When I was younger, my mother espoused the virtue of never wasting food, no matter the amount. The fact that companies were indiscriminately disposing of perfectly edible and overpriced (funnily enough, the more expensive something was, the more likely it was to be dumped since it was less likely to be purchased, gotta love capitalism) food spurred me to spring into action, on an obsessive-level of passion. After a while, I began to crave assistance and felt that there must be others who would have the same objective as I did. I created an encrypted chat group, which grew to over 50 members. Only a few people show sometimes, but it's still a salve to know I am not alone. Many times, while diving, unhoused or needy persons would come up to me and I always offered them anything I had found and directed them to the nearest community fridge. Time for a round of statistics: in the USA, a whopping 30-40% of the food readily produced is wasted. This doesn't account for food that hasn't yet entered the supply stream (think culled produce and animals deemed unfit for consumption due to appearance or perceived quality), rather, it's food that was already collected, packaged and manufactured. That's about $161 billion dollars of food waste in monetary value (from the year 2010). I hope I've made a dent in that number. I will keep dumpstering, long past COVID19, as long as I can.

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