Monday, January 11, 2010

Dumpster Diving 101

So this is Jay here again. As the title of this post divulges I am going to write about the wide and wonderful world of dumpster diving.

I like to think of the practice as "urban foraging". It's a great way to keep the cost of traveling down to an affordable level. While Elwood chugs gas like it's going out of style at least our food budget is extremely low. Last night was pretty much the first time we had to actually go and buy food since we left the Ranch ten days ago. Besides beer most things we require can be found for free.

I started the practice a couple years ago when I began my bike resuscitation business in Calgary. At the time almost all of my parts came from alleyways or the local dump. In Vancouver I continued with the bike biz and expanded to other items that I required as I had ditched most of my worldly possessions in my move to the west coast. I learned that you can easily furnish an appartment over the span of a couple months for almost nothing. I never really had to look for edibles at the time as Janet's job at a grocery store conveniently provided us with all the free food we could eat.

Now that we have become detached from this steady supply of goodness we must find our own sources of free foodstuffs. I've learned through friends and people I've met along the way some of the best spots and stores to check out for dumpster delights. Trader Joe's is by far the number one most reliable source I've found so far. They are pretty much everywhere in the states, barring southern Oregon, which is more or less empty of human civilization. They can let you down from time to time by locking their dumpsters (which is a total dick move) or kicking you out if you get caught poking around.

Even so I've scored tons of rad shit at their various locations including mountains of fruit and veggies, cheese, eggs, cookies, cereal and pretty much anything else that might have had it's packaging slightly damaged during transport. We once lucked out huge and found a tirramasu chocolate cake that was still perfectly sealed in it's wrapper and was absolutely fucking delicious. Google maps is also your best friend when seeking out local dumpsters. Search for "organic grocery" or "bakery" within your area and you'll be sure to find some goodies.

The waste that occurs within the food retail industry in the western world is really quite disgusting. There is so much that is simply trashed due to cosmetic damage that could feed all of the hungry within our own continent, never mind the wider world that consistently goes without. As far as I'm concerned it borders on criminal. Even worse is the lenghts to which many companies go in order to prevent even the most resourceful scavengers among us from liberating their so called "trash". The compactor is by far the biggest enemy of the dumpster diver and is employed by almost all of the larger US grocery chains. While I have found some more accomidating forward thinking retailers, such as the Rainbow Grocery Co-op in San Francisco, these places are few and far between.

So to all of you who have yet to try your hand at the fine art of binning I challenge you to put on a pair of boots, grab your rubber gloves and head to your favorite grocer under the cover of night. You'll be surprised by what you can get for free.

One man's trash is anothers free lunch.


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