Mar 25, 2008

What I learned on Oprah

Last week I watched a recorded episode of Oprah regarding freegans. This was one of Lisa Ling's investigative reports. I thought I might be the last to know about freegans, but in speaking to Brian, he was unaware. Seeing as how Brian usually knows a bit about everything, I thought I'd update the rest of you and get your opinion.

Freeganism is an anti-consumerism lifestyle. What I understood from the people featured on the show, was that they believe we waste and want too much. LIsa Ling stated that over 30 billion dollars worth of food is discarded by grocery stores yearly. Many freegans have given up their conventional job and now enjoy a much simpler life. They obtain most of their food by "dumpster diving." They didn't eat spoiled food or leftovers, they just scrounge restaurant and grocery store dumpsters for foods slightly damaged or expired, but not spoiled. In many cases, they found sealed packages of items like baked goods, vegetables, coffee beans, that were past their date, but obviously still edible. You can imagine the bagels and bakery items they can find outside of food chains. I'm sure you can imagine the cartons of eggs that go wasted due to one cracked egg. Besides food, they also search for household items, like furniture. It seems that they dumpster dive in large groups and then divide their findings. So you can learn from seasoned freegans and feel safe in a group.

I understand what the freegans are doing and I agree that we waste far too much. I feel awful that so much food goes to waste just because grocery stores have to worry about that marked expiration date in such a litigious society. I've slightly considered what it would be like to go on a group dumpster dive, but I don't know that I would ever get past the societal association to homelessness. Also, I think the freegan movement hasn't exactly made it to Holland. I just love free stuff!

For now, I suppose I'll stick to some of their less offensive recommendations, like growing my own vegetable garden and bartering goods. I'll also make an effort to purchase items that are slightly bruised or closer to expiration, knowing that if I don't use those items, there's a good chance they'll go to complete waste. You can find out more information here.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like an interesting idea for a individual. However, society wide it could be bad. We have all the stuff to throw away that we do because of our wealth. If everyone was a freegan, there wouldn't be much spare stuff laying around. Barter is cool, and seems more "real" then fiat money. And, it's hard to tax a exchange of say beers for scarfs. What is 14% of a 6 pack, and how does one collect it?

The spolied food issue is more an example of foolish gov't regs. If you could go to a store and purchase food that was, say, 1 week out of date for 1/4 the price (and loss of any right to sue because you knew full well it was old), would you do it? Or even free, just no lawsuit ability. It would be a win for everyone. You get cheaper food, Meijer gets rid of old stuff, and Gia Earth Mother doesn't get dumped on. But because there is a law that says "You can't sell out of date food" everyone suffers.

TOK (I can't rember my password right now!)

Patty Ann said...

Another example of government ideas gone wrong, paying farmers not to grow crops.
On a brighter note, Hidden Lake Gardens (owned by Mich. State) is offering a Junior Master Gardener program this spring, they will be growing vegetable gardens and donating the produce to food pantries and soup kitchens. Great idea.

Jacqueline said...

I remember watching Oprah a while ago and there were a few millionaires on the program who saved so much money by being INCREDIBLY thrifty. They would buy two ply toilet paper...then separate one roll into two rolls, etc. I don't know if I would go dumpster diving...but I sure do like tips on how to save a buck or two here and there!

It is a shame how much food is wasted. I had a few friends who worked at Big Apple Bagel in high school. They would throw away dozens and dozens of bagels. The only way they could donate them is if the food shelters would come and pick them up...well they called around and no one was willing to do so every day =( Such a shame.

Anonymous said...

Angie, After I move, I'll treat you to a complimentary dive experience behind D&W some night.I was very inspired by that show to recycle in more creative ways. Linda

The Outlaw Kyle said...

It's not often you see a site associated with the wobblies anymore, but the freegan site seems to like them...

I wonder Oprah eats food out of a dumpster?