My friend Hope called me early this year and told me this story and sent me these pictures. I felt I should share it–mainly because I found it so disturbing.
(In a large-sized midwestern American town, the first week of Jan 2012.)
Out walking her dog, Hope came across a dumpster behind a bargain-priced grocery store. Hope’s dog bee-lined for the dumpster and she realized the dog had discovered thrown out food from the grocery store. Dented cans, smashed fruit and dairy and meat products with passed expiration dates sat high on boxes in the dumpster, a few tossed products didn’t make it in and lay scattered on the ground, which her dog gnawed. She peered in and saw boxes of perfectly good tomatoes and lettuce.
As she walked away, two men who appeared homeless walked through the woods and headed straight for the dumpster. Reaching in for the food, they immediately sat down and began to feast.
A month later, while Hope shooed her dog away from the dumpster yet again, a woman peered around the corner of the dumpster, startling Hope .
“Is there anything good in there?” the woman asked. She looked to be in her 70’s.
“Gosh, I don’t know,” Hope replied. “I haven’t looked.”
“Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m from Germany. My food runs out before the end of the month. I only have social security, and they’re getting ready to cut that. I don’t know what I’ll do,” the elderly woman said, pulling out bags of crushed apples and a package of pork chops. “Do they have any lettuce in there? I need a salad,” the woman said.
Hope helped her root around. “Oh, look at these!” Hope exclaimed about a packet of yogurt that wasn’t expired yet. I wonder why they threw this out. ”
“Shhh. You must be quiet or they’ll come out and make us leave,” the woman said. “One of the workers opens up the pints of milk and pours them out so no one can take them. Be quiet or they’ll shoo us away. Oh, I love milk. I like to have milk for my cereal.”
“Here’s a gallon right here!” Hope said.
“Oh! I can’t believe it! Milk! I never find that!” the woman squealed in delight, reaching for the gallon.
“What’s the expiration date on that?” Hope asked.
“Oh, I don’t care about that,” she answered. “I’ll drink it anyway. I know it isn’t very expired. I come every Wednesday and every Sunday to the dumpster to look for food. Most places you can’t do this. ”
The elderly woman pulled a white trash bag from the dumpster and took it to her car, only to turn around and bring it back. “Oh darn, this is someone’s trash,” she said.
Hope helped her carry the food to the car, and watched her drive away.
“It made me sad when she accidentally picked up someone else’s trash and took it to her car,” Hope confided. “Is this what it’s coming to?”
I wasn’t sure if I was more disturbed that a 70-year-old woman on social security has to dumpster dive to get enough subsistence for the week or by the amount of food America wastes. Talk about zero waste!
What do you think?
Interesting Dumpster diving articles:
- Is It OK to Dumpster Dive for a Pot Luck? (treehugger.com)
- Dumpster-Divers and the Smoothies of Wrath (foodanthro.wordpress.com)
- One man’s trash: Dumpster diving for breakfast [VIDEO] (grist.org)
- A Dumpster Dinner: Is Thanksgiving The Most Wasteful Day Of The Year? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Let’s Waste Less Food (thriftysocialworker.com)
- How To Search A Dumpster (forensics4fiction.wordpress.com)
- Why Middle-Class Americans Are Turning to Dumpster Diving (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Here’s A Guide To The Middle-Class Dumpster Diving Trend (businessinsider.com)