Becoming a Freegan, Sort Of

Last season The Oprah Show highlighted a movement called "freeganism." Basically it is a social movement against all of the consumerism and waste in our country (a good thing, right?). I was all on board with them when it comes to recycling, giving away and getting things off Freecycle, buying only what you need, etc. And even though I have done my share of dumpster diving and trash-day curbside shopping, I was a little put off by one of the movement's more popular activity - scavenging the trash outside city grocery stores and restaurants. In New York City they actually have tours (paid!) that will take you around and show you where the best spots are to collect this free food that has been put out in the trash. I was shocked with the perfectly good food being thrown away (apples because of one brown spot, bread because it was more than a day old, etc.) but just wouldn't be able to get past picking it out of a trash bag on the curb.


Last week I actually got around to talking with the produce manager at my local grocery store and asked him what they do with all of the old produce. "Throw it away." "Can I have it? For composting." (Do I want to admit what I really want it for?) "Sure, any day." So I set up a pick up schedule with him and got excited to see what would happen.

Wednesday I picked up a large box full of mostly green produce. It included a dozen bunches of spinach, a dozen or so bunches of green onions, lettuce, a yellow pepper, some radishes and a carrot. Not bad. I steamed and pureed all of the spinach to sneak into casseroles for extra veggie power, cut up the perfectly good head of romaine for my lunch that day, chopped up the green onions to freeze, and sliced up the other veggies to put on my salad. Whew! It made for work that day, but I got alot of good stuff - free AND good for me.

Friday I wasn't in a position to go so Lizzie asked if she could go. I said sure, just let me know if you get anything good. She called less than 30 minutes later. She shoots, she scores! She came home with two boxes of food this day, one completely full of strawberries and the other full of lots of organic produce and various other veggies. We split the strawberries and some of the other veggies. I took eight pounds (!) of strawberries, a two-pound bag of mini-carrots, and three bell peppers. The strawberries got sorted through and cut up for the freezer (I was amazed at how many strawberries were actually good), the carrots got steamed and pureed for baby food (which Lily LOVED later that night), and the green peppers I made into a dinner of stuffed peppers that evening (wouldn't you know I had the stuffing in the freezer already to go, labeled "for 3 peppers"!)

So I may not have become a full-fledged Freegan this week, and this article may even gross some of you out, but I am actually proud of my accomplishments. I was reminded of the Biblical story of Ruth, who gleaned the field with her mother-in-law Naomi. Well, I am gleaning the grocery stores with my sister-in-law Lizzie. And for those of you who don't know the ending, Ruth is in the lineage of Christ. Obviously God felt that this is a noble calling.

1 comment:

Skinner Family said...

I should start visiting our produce manager for the same deals! Thanks for inspiring me!