SECRET FREEGAN: Rescuing Food to Feed Homeless
HOW TO GET FREE FOOD
I've gathered over $125,000 worth of food and other stuff during the last five years. I've discovered that most grocery stores throw out $600 worth or more of fresh food every day. They will not donate the food to the hungry because of "liability concerns" and tax issues. I've cut my family's monthly grocery bill by $300 and given the rest to feed the homeless and needy. I love following your heart, kindness, and empowering others. I call myself a Secret Freegan. My hope is that our country will learn to distribute their leftover food to the homeless so everyone is nurtured. I'm doing a little by gathering and distributing about 400 lbs. of food weekly. Thanks for visiting my blog!
TV SHOW FEATURES MY FOOD RESCUING - Kind of scary to be so revealing!
My food efforts will be shown on TLC (The Learning Channel) on May 1st at 10:00 p.m. It is the finale show for the 2013 season of My Crazy Obsession.
I fluctuated on whether I should participate in this show--Will it try to make food rescue look as stupid as possible? Will it portray my "obsession" with rescuing food for the hungry in a fair way? Is it revealing too much information which will cause stores to lock their bins and excited people try a hand at it without using my safety precautions?
My hope is that it will shed a light on the massive food waste in the U.S. and help people work together to donate instead of waste it!
Some of my art pieces are featured in the show when I have a fun freegan fest combined with an art opening.
Dumpster Divin' Blues by Secret Freegan - Alice Tatum Sings the Blues
Photos of huge food waste in Phoenix, Arizona.
Food rescue by Secret Freegan 'Ginger Freebird.'
Such a pleasure to work with talented Alice Tatum in the studio.
This song I wrote tells the story of food waste in the USA and a freegan's response to it.
Co-produced by Donald Kehl of Alpha Studio in Tempe, Arizona.
Second video shows a night of food recovery and how to be a freegan safely.
Part I: Day in the Life of a Freegan - Reporter goes on a food run with Ginger Freebird
Standing beside a store dumpster opening a box of cookies she just pulled from a nearby garbage can, Ginger Freebird is a breath of fresh air. Dressed in black Sketcher shoes and dark Ray-Ban sunglasses, she commonly makes the rounds through her neighborhood, diving into its dumpsters to see what treasures might await.
A resident of Phoenix and in her early 50s, Freebird shows up armed with a number of the tools of the trade, including a thick jacket, aprons and gloves. Her short, dirty-blonde hair jutting out from beneath her dark baseball cap, Freebird looks every bit the part of one of the growing legion of "freegans," whose mission is to make use of the town rubbish.
Ginger, who adopted the name to enjoy anonymity for this part of her life, says she rescues usable items, including food, from trashcans, harvesting what she considers society's waste and giving any excess discoveries to those in need, a practice she calls "binning."
Like any line of work, being a freegan comes with its own tricks of the trade, shared mostly by those who have been at it awhile. First is simply knowing where to look.
According to Ginger, almost anyone would be surprised by how many usable items are thrown away, including fresh and completely edible foods, and to her that waste is even more disgusting than any of the dumpsters into which she delves.
Becoming a Freegan
Ginger Freebird of Phoenix sees herself as a "food rescuer" and wishes stores donated more of their discarded food to the needy. Some fresh dumpster finds include nearly perfect flowers. Photo Credit: Kimberly Hosey
Ginger says she first became aware of freeganism after watching a segment on Oprah in 2008. The broadcast featured investigative journalist Lisa Ling going on a food run in New York City with several freegans, discussing their philosophy along the way. The segment explained that rather than contribute to America's use-and-throw-away lifestyle, freegans sought to rescue usable food and items from the trash.
Ginger was immediately intrigued.
"A week later I checked out the bins behind a nearby large chain grocery store and found a medley of bananas, apples, potatoes, onions, avocados, kiwis, strawberries, lettuce and radishes. It was like Christmas! I was hooked after that," she says.
The word "freegan" is derived from compounding the words free and vegan, and even if many freegans aren't vegan or even vegetarians for that matter, the guiding philosophy behind saving waste does run parallel to general veganism ideals. The lifestyle is seen by many as a political statement against America's consumerist culture. While Ginger shares many views of the movement's more visible proponents, to her becoming a freegan was just plain common sense.
Ginger says the salvaged goods are better than you might expect. Profitable grocery stores run on efficiency, not charity. Most retailers constantly make room for new product, showcasing only the freshest, best-looking items, so items that some wouldn't hesitate to eat are thrown into the garbage. Some are only a day past their "sell by" dates, and will remain edible for several days. A dozen eggs, for instance, might be discarded for one egg in the carton being cracked. Day-old bakery goods are thrown away in giant, clean bags. Fresh flowers are tossed out.
"Grocery store bins are picked up every day of the week, so nothing is more than a day old," Ginger says. "I usually check every few hours, and the food on top is still cold and fresh. I also check for food recalls and make sure it has not been dumped for that reason."
Of the approximately 591 billion pounds of food produced in the United States each year, almost half goes to waste, according to a decade-long University of Arizona study released in 2004. Cost estimates to consumers and manufacturers range from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
Ginger Freebird donates 11 boxes of food to a couple she met through Freecycle. Photo Credit: Ginger Freebird
Connie Finch of Chandler says she has always looked for ways to cut waste and help others. So a few months ago she answered a posting for free produce on the website Freecycle.org, which led her to Ginger.
"I've got a lot of friends that are having very difficult times right now," Finch says. From a man who did work at her house but has been unemployed for three years, to a friend whose housekeeping service became a casualty of the rising recession, Finch has built her own network of needy to whom she regularly provides assistance.
After meeting Ginger, the two became a perfect match, forming a partnership of sorts. Recent health issues have precluded Finch from going binning, so she now relies on Ginger and regularly picks up food from her nearly every week, distributing it to several families in need.
Finch says she doesn't see freeganism as any different from other outreach efforts. She's always looked for ways to save items and help people. When a local church group was housing a family from Africa but didn't have beds, she was quick to donate two beds. When she learned that many women in shelters must leave in the middle of the night and have nothing with which to carry their belongings, she donated several large suitcases. As far as she's concerned, binning is just dealing with a middleman.
"I'm really glad I met (Ginger) through Freecycle, and I feel like we're both kind of contributing out there."
Freeganism, the Lifestyle
After a successful foraging trip, we return to Ginger's house and bring in the haul. Frozen items go in an extra freezer, and box after box goes into her kitchen, to be cleaned and repackaged for donation the next day.
Then we eat. From a dumpster. And it's delicious.
Cheese and green chili tamales, plum tomatoes and guacamole made from fresh avocados - all food from our recent outing - is served with sparkling San Pellegrino water (which was binned) in crystal goblets (purchased at a yard sale). It's a first-rate meal, all for the cost of the water it took to wash the food. We savor it.
"You can't go binning with someone and not feel like they're family," Ginger says, serving binned strawberry Newtons for dessert. And it's true. She's got enough interests - piano, photography, painting, gardening, music - that almost anyone will have something in common with her. But mostly it's the nature of outreach that she brings to the trips that engenders the greatest sense of camaraderie.
"Strangers are just friends you haven't met yet." You've probably heard it. You've probably deleted a cheesy e-mail containing the phrase. Heck, Ginger may have sent some of those e-mails. But in her case it's pretty accurate. She might add, "Some garbage is just food you haven't rescued yet," but it really is all about the people.
A lunch of tamales, sweet tomatoes, and fresh guacamole, all from grocery store trash bins. Photo Credit: Kimberly Hosey
"I don't recommend anyone try dumpster diving unless they're really in shape," Ginger says. "And be willing to use safety precautions such as gloves, long-sleeved clothes, a back brace and rarely or never actually go inside a bin. Use the proper tools."
She recommends a quality grabber tool as well as a hoe, rake or pool cleaning pole for heavy or out-of-reach items in the bin. She also stresses that binners need to be "discreet and have a 5-second getaway plan. Don't talk to any store people, just leave immediately if you are spotted," she says.
Ginger says that once a friend of hers had noticed a clothing store was throwing away clothes and asked the manager for permission to donate the clothing. After that, the clothes were shredded daily. "I learned not to talk to managers," Ginger says.
The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed in 1996, protects donors, corporations and individuals from liability when donating to a non-profit organization as long as the donation is made in good faith. Even with this protection and the related tax incentives, however, retailers often avoid what some believe could turn into bad publicity.
Part II: A Day in the Life of a Freegan - $240,000 food dumped by stores daily in Phoenix. I rescue what I can.
The Freegan Ride Along
Ginger pulls up at one of the final stops on a midday food run. "I love this place, but sometimes they don't have anything, and they might be watching," she says, dropping her voice to a whisper as she gets out from behind the wheel. "I know the exact squeak of that door. Just jump in and we'll get out of here if we hear it."
The covert mission proves fruitful. Artisan bread, blueberry waffles (still frozen), firm and unblemished tomatoes, organic basil in a sealed container and a large bag of walnuts all enjoy a quick trip from the dumpster to a box in the back of Ginger's SUV.
"Eating from a dumpster is often safer than eating from a restaurant," she says, pointing out that after she cleans off the produce, it will actually be quite a bit cleaner than the menus at many restaurants.
It's par for the course. Sometimes Ginger's hauls are much bigger, and it's a constant flow. She sends me an email one day later: "If you happen to be on my side of town … drop by and see the 25 boxes of food I've amassed over the last two days: entrÃ©es, bananas, apples, lettuce, peaches, veggie trays, raspberries, bread, desserts, garlic bread, pizzas."
It's not just food, either. Ginger often rescues clothes, appliances, suitcases and more from the garbage. Most of it is perfectly usable. She's even been able to sell some items: Mannequins, a golf case, a trade show display case that sold for over a thousand dollars. She's even made some weirder discoveries. Like the time out of the blue when the dumpster she was looking in began talking to her about her love life.
"A woman's voice starts speaking to me repeatedly: 'Want to find the perfect man? Come over here!' I found the culprit in the bin - a black box motion-sensor advertising video gimmick trying to sell shampoo," she says.
A Lifelong Spirit
Ginger Freebird's garden flourishes. She has gathered plants, seeds, and containers for planting from trash bins, and composts unusable binned food for fertile soil. Photo Credit: Ginger Freebird
Ginger's spirit of being frugal has been with her for her whole life. Actually, she says, it spans several lives. She was raised to be thrifty, and she was setting frugal trends as far back as her teens.
Jo, Ginger's mother who lives in California, is proud of her daughter's cause. Born during the Great Depression, Jo lived on what there was. She raised her daughters to do the same. In high school, Jo says, Ginger started the trend at her school of wearing patchwork skirts by being the first to make one from scraps they had at home. Now, she visits California whenever she can, bringing a veritable cornucopia of binned goods for her mother and sister.
"She brings me beautiful clothes and comforters and duvets. She gets a lot of things from bins that are in excellent condition, and she always cleans them. Pillows, kitchen items, a large commercial oven mitt that comes way up so that I won't burn myself, toaster ovens, coats, shoes, flowers and sometimes food, dry food, rugs, flour and vegetable seeds. Our whole back yard is planted - Ginger planted them - and they were from seeds that she had rescued," Jo says. Some of the items come from garage sales, but much of it is from dumpsters. And Jo is thrilled.
"Every time she comes it's like Christmas," she says.
More than that, Jo is grateful to Ginger for the awareness she spreads.
"It's awakened me so much," she says. "I had no idea, and I don't think most people do."
Ginger says she's not trying to turn everyone into dumpster divers, though she would like to collaborate with like-minded individuals to raise awareness, and possibly start a non-profit organization dedicated to education and sustainable scavenging. She is willing to teach serious aspiring binners how to be safe and successful.
A closer look at freeganism reveals that it's not about the yuck factor and rebellion, but compassion and frugality and a growing sense of the massive amounts of waste all around us. Most freegans just seem to be looking for like-minded allies.
Connie Finch's name was changed for this story.
Cover photo credit: Kimberly Hosey
Dumpster Diving 101:
3 Top Reasons You Should Never Dumpster Dive
1. Dumpsters are obviously disgusting and filthy.
They harbor germs galore, including those that could cause food poisoning, staph, and pneumonia...and in Los Angeles three-quarters of them are tainted with drug residue*...oh, I was talking about United States dollar bills-not dumpsters.
The majority of store dumpsters are emptied daily by sanitation trucks, so the contents are no older than 24 hours. Most of the dumpster contents were for sale on store shelves a couple hours earlier, so they can't be too rotten!
2. Dumpster diving is outside the norm of society's accepted behaviors. And it just feels wrong!
Grocery store corporate policy ensures purposely wasting all of today's leftovers from every department: bakery, floral, deli, meat, produce, and frozen goods. If there is one brown leaf on a head of lettuce, out goes the whole head. They could legally choose to donate it to charity, and receive a beneficial tax write-off for doing so. At least they could compost the food and recycle the vast sea of packaging materials. But that would entail doing things differently, rewriting policy, and taking the time to brainstorm and figure out the most efficient way to implement the new policy.
What feels more wrong-recovering the edible food and feeding dozens of families- or letting it clog our landfills where it emits methane, a gas much more toxic to our atmosphere than carbon dioxide?
3. Dumpster diving is irresponsible and dangerous.
One of my neighbors, Gus, throws a huge party every day for the whole neighborhood. The guests are treated to an amazing all-you-can-eat buffet with thousands of varieties of food. And every day he orders his staff to don sanitary plastic gloves and place $500-$2,000 worth of his gala's leftover in clean plastic bags. Then he orders more staff to place the bags in the garbage bin beside his house.
I once asked my neighbor if he could donate the food to local charities-after all, there are 10,000 people living in their cars or on the streets in our city of Phoenix alone. He said, "And what would I do if one of those poor people decided to make some money by claiming to get sick from my food and taking me to court? What kind of publicity would that bring me? What would that do to my reputation? No one would come to my party anymore!"
He went on, "Of course, I'd have to settle out of court quickly to minimize the publicity. That could be very expensive for me. I give a truckload of canned goods to the local food bank every day, but I am forced to throw all the rest away. I just can't take that liability risk."
I've watched how Gus operates. I know his food dumping schedule. I regularly drive to his place, quietly fill up my car with the food bags, bring them home, open them up, and organize the food in my three refrigerator/freezers. The following day I distribute it to local needy people.
Oh-"Gus" is just a nickname for my neighbor. "My Neighborhood Grocery Store" is his full name. Now who is the wackiest, more irresponsible one-"Gus," the local chain grocery store- or me, the local dumpster diver?
*Statistics from Broke is Beautiful, by Laura Lee
In the last 3 Â½ years, Secret Freegan has donated $92,000 worth of recovered goods to the needy and saved over $12,000 in grocery bills. She is a suburban housewife, mother, and teacher with two Master’s degrees. Photos and videos of her finds can be viewed at SecretFreegan.com.
Dumpster Diving Tools - For Safe and Fast Dumpster Diving!
You need this grabber that is the strongest I've found, a headlight for night diving, a hoe to reach boxes and pull them towards you as you stand outside the bin, a back brace so you don't hurt your back, and more...
- Essential Tools for Dumpster Diving Here
Click the blue link above, then scroll down to see all the best dumpster diving tools!
Food Run - Food Recovery for Charity
Secret Freegan finds a boatload of food on a night run for free food to donate to the hungry. The stores will not donate because of liability fears. If we donated 1/4 of the food we waste in the USA, we could feed the world twice over. It is legal to be a "picker" of abandoned goods.
Daily Waste from One Store - Fresh food rescued and donated
Dumpster Diving Video - Freegan feeds the needy
Reporter Liz Lastra of Cronkite Newswatch follows Ginger Freebird, the "Secret Freegan" on a day of gathering free food for the needy in Phoenix, Arizona. Secret Freegan.com
Rescuing Food to Donate to Homeless Shelters - One bin, $2,000 worth of food
"Secret Freegan" goes on daily hunts for fresh food to donate to homeless shelters. Here's some of her finds on Thanksgiving Day: 150 bananas, over 300 bread loaves, 100 salads, and more...
Rescued Food ready for Homeless Shelter
$2,000 worth of food brought home, sorted, displayed under Xmas tree/Hanukkah bush, just before taking to homeless shelter Thanksgiving 2008.
Hundreds of loaves, salads, entrees 1 bin 1 day--this shows half of it!
Every Day inside an American Bin
How I've Donated over $40,000 Worth of Good Food to the Homeless
Teen Shelter's Grocery Bill Slashed from $500 to $50/Week
Every week a teen runaway shelter picks up 200 lbs. of food from me. They have even donated a second fridge for my garage so I can store more food for them safely.
Every day I check certain bins for fresh bags and boxes of food. It is like someone has emptied an enormous refrigerator and freezer, put the items in clean bags and boxes, and placed them outside for a few minutes for me to find. Here's a photo of a bin full of over 100 loaves of today's bread.
The bins are picked up by dump trucks every single day. There is no old food. I have never seen one insect in 8 months.
The average store throws out $500-$800 worth of fresh food every day: 100 loaves bread, 10 cakes and pies, 100 donuts, 50 bagels, 100 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables: lettuce, celery, radishes, peaches, nectarines, grapes, artichokes, asparagus, oranges, lemons, peppers, tomatoes, kiwis, mushrooms, parsley, onions,and potatoes, etc.
Every Day Inside Bins Across America - Massive Food Waste
Cantaloupes, organic bananas, fruit platters, tomatoes, potatoes, dozens of donuts, mangoes,eggplants, plantains
PODCAST: MY AUDIO INTERVIEW ABOUT FOOD RESCUE IS HERE!
- CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE PODCAST INTERVIEW
Phone interview on November 3, 2008 with "Secret Freegan" and Tiffany of Naturemoms.com Blog
How a Homeless Teen Got Rollerblades - Now he can cruise to work instead of live on drugs
1. Teen is living on street
2. Teen is approached by shelter outreach workers with delicious food
3. Teen then wants to go to shelter
4. Teen gets help and finds a job
5. Budget of shelter is freed up from buying food
6. Shelter buys him new roller blades to get to work
Teen Shelter Van Filled with Food
126 Bags of Chips the Runaway Teens Loved!
Picnic for 40
$72 Million Worth of Good Food Dumped
That's approximately how much is wasted yearly in my city alone--even though the stores give to food banks. They toss out packages of vegetables & fruits when even one item is showing signs of age, or they're all good, they just have newer produce and no shelf room. They will not give it to me outright because of "liability" issues though the Federal Good Samaritan Food Act protects them.
So I discreetly drive by the bins and load boxes of food into my car at times few people are around.
The safest foods to rescue are fresh fruits and vegetables. You can see if they're fresh or not. Since they come from the ground,they need to be washed no matter where you buy/find them. I suggest washing them with a solution of 1 tsp. blue-capped type bleach of a big bowl of water, OR add 1 tsp.baking soda OR 1 Tbsp. white vinegar OR a commercial vegetable washing liquid found in a health food store.
Frozen or refrigerated meals must be very cold. Don't take them if they're warm. (Winter is good for binning.) Any cooked meats taken must be refrigerated as soon as possible, and heated to 165 degrees core temperature before eating.
Bin contents--100 Bread & Bakery Items
I love eating organic food! I have found that much of the produce thrown out by stores is organic, because they may have a few spots on them, or spoil quicker than those grown with pesticides. I haven't had to buy any organic greens for months (the main staple of my diet) as I find chard, spinach, collards, lettuce, spices, etc. every week, not to mention lots of organic bananas for smoothies. Found 2 boxes with 25 bunches of asparagus yesterday.
Organic bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, turnips, cantaloupes, donuts, lilies, wheat grass, avocados, limes, pears, nectarines, smoothie made from fresh fruits
Boxes ready to be sorted
A Typical Day at the Bin
Here's a small portion of what I typically find in a day. I'm very thankful for all of it, and usually can feed about 25 other people with it. I sort and box it neater before taking to a shelter. I make sure it's a shelter that doesn't require packaged, dated food as a few do. I don't drive around and let the food go bad. I immediately take it home, process it by sorting, bagging, putting in fridge or I take it immediately to a shelter. Food safety is important!
More Rescued Food
Green Living Links - Places with Good Tips for Going Green
- Wasted Food
Details about food waste in the US at Jonathan Bloom's blog and gallery.
- Interview with Celebrate Green Author Lynn Colwell | Green and Natural Parenting
Nature Moms Blog: A guide to natural family life! Subscribe via RSS 6Oct Celebrate Green! Posted by Tiffany at 6:00 am in Green Holidays, Podcast. If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. You can subscribe via RSS reader or email
- What are Freegans?
When I first heard of the Freegans I didn't know what to think.Although taking garbage home for dinner seems a bit odd to most people, Freegans do it every day.
- Going Green
Tips and practices you can implement in YOUR household, school, or community.
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Going Green is a consulting firm specializing in bicycling and walking. ... Website by Becka Roolf, Going Green. Updated 4 June 2008.
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Going Green Georgia - News and Resources on Green Practices in Conservation, Recycling, Building, Education, Recreation and Sustainable Practices.
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Going Green is a Resource Kit for Pollution Prevention in Health Care made up of over 30 different factsheets and tools on waste minimization, ...
- Everyday Trash
everydaytrash A closer look at what we throw away. � Textiles of the�Future Gourmet compost in San�Fran � Trashtastic Tuesday with Scott�Kellogg Scott Kellogg and his partner Stacy Pettigrew are coauthors of “Toolbox for Sustainable Living
- Australian Environmental Site
Re-earth the Cities
- Green Pepper: Your Guide to Eco Living
Helpful UK blog about going green, helping the world
From the Bin
Bagels, bread, potatoes, tortillas, bananas, apples, nectarines, plums, mangoes, lettuce
40 packages saved
Recycle at Earth911.org
Please do NOT leave your electronics and furniture in and beside bins, America!
Take to a charity thrift store or find out where to recycle at earth911.org.
Here's what I get in a day.
Trash Pickers Help Green Crusade
Freegan by Necessity not Choice
Trash Pickers Save the World
March 25, 2008 McClatchy Newspapers
Buenos Aires, Argentina--
"As the world scrambles to save dwindling resources and halt global warming, a long-scorned population is becoming the latest hope in the environmental battle.
The unsung heroes are impoverished trash pickers who fill the streets of cities around the developing world, searching garbage for cardboard, plastic bags and other treasure that can be sold and recycled.
They rescue hundreds of thousands of tons of material from streets and trash dumps that get reprocessed into all kinds of products. That not only cuts back on the resources used by industries but also lightens the load on dumps that are quickly reaching capacity.
Despite their contributions, trash pickers have long suffered harassment from local governments and derision from neighbors, who often consider them vagrants or even criminals. Such attitudes, however, are changing, trash pickers said, and they're increasingly being seen as foot soldiers in the global-warming battle."
An Afternoon's Pickings
Another afternoon of Fresh Produce
Sweets to Eat
Buy My Tell-All E-Book to Learn All My Secrets! $22
What tools to use,Stay unnoticed,Donate...More
Overflowing with fresh veggies and fruit
Food activism in progress
I gather the produce, sort, and refrigerate for one day if I can't get it to the shelter the same day.
Bins Bursting with $500 worth of produce
Like a multi-fruit tree
I pick up the boxes and lay them in my car, careful to leave things as neat as I found them. Have my car lined with plastic sheeting so I don't drip on the seats too much. Got a whole car full, shared with shelter and some needy families.
30 Pounds of Grapes and Strawberries
Sweet and delicious
More Environment Friendly Books
Where to Donate Food
Recently I started listing Free Groceries on my local Freecycle.org group site. The people who have come by to pick up the food have been amazing, grateful, and interested in what I'm doing. One receiver brought me soup and dehydrated apples she made from the food. Another gal is going to help me with a photography shoot I'm doing soon. Another gave me a hand written thank you note. Another told me the flowers and food she received totally made her day, and she impressed her relatives with a beautiful feast.
Plants and Flowers
Rescued and Restored
Lots dumped after Mother's Day
Secret Freegan Builds a Worm Farm - Vermiculture Fun
Worms make the best compost. They are silent, non-smelly, easy "pets" to have. They eat up leftover veggies and fruit so it doesn't have to go into the landfill and create dangerous methane.
Ice Cream Galore unceremoniously dumped in bin
Discarded, then Discovered while still frozen
Another treat for the teens
Hundreds of Health Bars
Green Books on Amazon
Wise Words from Scavenger and Writer Lars Eighner
Life's Lessons Found Deep in Thrown Away Stuff
On Dumpster Diving
A freelance writer living in Austin, Lars Eighner (b. 1948) was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and attended the University of Texas from 1966 to 1969. He was an attendant ward worker at the Austin State Hospital from 1980 to 1987 and worked off and on for a drug crisis program and as a freelance writer.
Lars Eighner and his dog Wilma
Eighner lived on the streets for several years, and his homeless experiences are recalled in Travels with Lizbeth (1993), which became a best seller and from which "Dumpster Diving" is excerpted. "Dumpster Diving" was first anthologized in The Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses in 1992.
I find from the experience of scavenging two rather deep lessons. The first is to take what you can use and let the rest go by. I have come to think that there is no value in the abstract. A thing I cannot use or make useful, perhaps by trading, has no value however rare or fine it may be. I mean useful in a broad sense--some art I would find useful and some otherwise.
I was shocked to realize that some things are not worth acquiring, but now I think it is so. Some material things are white elephants that eat up the possessor's substance. The second lesson is the transience of material being. This has not quite converted me to a dualist, but it has made some headway in that direction. I do not suppose that ideas are immortal, but certainly mental things are longer lived than other material things.
Once I was the sort of person who invests objects with sentimental value. Now I no longer have those objects, but I have the sentiments yet.
Many times in our travels I have lost everything but the clothes I was wearing and Lizbeth. The things I find in Dumpsters, the love letters and rag dolls of so many lives, remind me of this lesson. Now I hardly pick up a thing without envisioning the time I will cast it aside. This I think is a healthy state of mind. Almost everything I have now has already been cast out at least once, proving that what I own is valueless to someone.
Anyway, I find my desire to grab for the gaudy bauble has been largely sated. I think this is an attitude I share with the very wealthy--we both know there is plenty more where what we have came from. Between us are the rat-race millions who nightly scavenge the cable channels looking for they know not what.
I am sorry for them.
More about Lars Eighner
A Freegan Dumpster Diving Blog
A guy in Denmark shares his Freegan Secrets
Thoughts from another good-hearted "freegan" from http://www.emoware.org/dumpster-diving/
The blog has video links and lots of details about European Dumpster diving.
The author says:
The term "freegan" does imply choice, but her knowledge of freegans seems limited to the unsurprisingly narrowminded media attention they've received. this is probably where the second asumption comes from, that freegans are unambitious, lazy, and don't contribute to society. presuming so reduces everyone down to nothing but consumers. many freegans do have jobs, and many also contribute to society in ways that can't be measured by economics, and in ways that benefit the whole of humanity, not just the top 5%. what they definitely don't do is hurt the bottom 80%. dumpster divers are not "bums/freeloaders/losers", they're not living off others in a way that deprives anyone of anything (apart from maybe each other, if they get too greedy). they simply live off the waste, the stuff that someone else has decided they don't wont and rather than passing it on to someone in need (as 'food not bombs' does) has attempted to selfishly destroy it. dumpster divers cause no harm, we just take advantage (something all good capitalists should understand). we reduce waste that would otherwise go to landfill and help feed a few hungry mouths.
Food Given to Charity
Garbagology Books - Really Makes You Think
Green Books on Amazon
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Act
Benefits for Donating Extra Food
The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was signed into existence in 1996. It encourages donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to needy individuals.
Here's how this law makes it easier for you to donate:
* It protects you from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the needy recipient.
* It standardizes donor liability exposure. You and your legal counsel no longer have to investigate liability laws in 50 states.
* It sets a liability floor of "gross negligence" or intentional misconduct for persons who donate, defined as "voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person."
* Congress recognized that the provision of food being close to the date of recommended retail sale is, in and of itself, not grounds for finding gross negligence.
Here is the full text of the federal law which protects grocery stores and all who donate food to the needy. I have highlighted important areas toward the end:
Text of Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act
PUBLIC LAW 104-210
To encourage the donation of food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy individuals by giving the Model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act the full force and effect of law.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
conduct was likely to be harmful to the health or well-being
of another person.'';
(D) by striking subsection (c) and inserting the following:
(c) Liability for Damages From Donated Food and Grocery Products.--
(1) Liability of person or gleaner.--A person or gleaner
shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising
from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently
wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product that
the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a
non-profit organization for ultimate distribution to needy
(2) Liability of non-profit organization.--A non-profit
organization shall not be subject to civil or criminal
liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or
condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently
fit grocery product that the non-profit organization
received as a donation in good faith from a person or
gleaner for ultimate distribution to needy individuals.
Good Samaritan Food Act: The Main Text
NO LIABILITY for donating APPARENTLY FIT FOOD
SEC. 402. MODEL GOOD SAMARITAN FOOD DONATION ACT.
(a) SHORT TITLE. —This section may be cited as the "Good Samaritan Food Donation Act".
(b) DEFINITIONS. —As used in this section:
(1) APPARENTLY FIT GROCERY PRODUCT.—The term "apparently fit grocery product" means a grocery product that meets a quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations even though the product may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.
(2) APPARENTLY WHOLESOME FOOD. —The term "apparently wholesome food" means food that meets all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.
(3) DONATE.—The term "donate" means to give without requiring anything of monetary value from the recipient, except that the term shall include giving by a nonprofit organization to another nonprofit organization, notwithstanding that the donor organization has charged a nominal fee to the donee organization, if the ultimate recipient or user is not required anything of monetary value.
(4) FOOD.—The term "food" means any raw, cooked, processed, or prepared edible substance, ice, beverage, or ingredient used or intended for use in whole or in part for human consumption.
(5) GLEANER. —The term "gleaner" means a person who harvests for free distribution to the needy, or for donation to a nonprofit organization for ultimate distribution to the needy, an agricultural crop that has been donated by the owner.
(6) GROCERY PRODUCT. —The term "grocery product" means a nonfood grocery product, including a disposable paper or plastic product, household cleaning product, laundry detergent, cleaning product, or miscellaneous household item.
(7) GROSS NEGLIGENCE.—The term "gross negligence" means voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of the conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person.
(8) INTENTIONAL MISCONDUCT.—The term "intentional misconduct" means conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of the conduct) that the conduct is harmful to the health or well-being of another person.
(9) NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION.—The term "nonprofit organization" means an incorporated or unincorporated entity that —-
(A) is operating for religious, charitable, or educational purposes; and
(B) does not provide net earnings to, or operate in any other manner that inures to the benefit of, any officer, employee, or shareholder of the entity.
(10) PERSON.—The term "person" means an individual, corporation, partnership, organization, association, or governmental entity, including a retail grocer, wholesaler, hotel, motel, manufacturer, restaurant, caterer, farmer, and nonprofit food distributor or hospital. In the case of a corporation, partnership, organization, association, or governmental entity, the term includes an officer, director, partner, deacon, trustee, council member, or other elected or appointed individual responsible for the governance of the entity.
(c)LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES FROM DONATED FOOD AND GROCERY PRODUCTS. - A person or gleaner shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product that the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a nonprofit organization for ultimate distribution to needy individuals, except that this paragraph shall not apply to an injury to or death of an ultimate user or recipient of the food or grocery product that results from an act or omission of the donor constituting gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
(d) COLLECTION OR GLEANING OF DONATIONS.—A person who allows the collection or gleaning of donations on property owned or occupied by the person by gleaners, or paid or unpaid representatives of a nonprofit organization, for ultimate distribution to needy individuals shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability that arises due to the injury of death of the gleaner or representative, except that this paragraph shall not apply to an injury or death that results from an act or omission of the person constituting gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
(e) PARTIAL COMPLIANCE.—If some or all of the donated food and grocery products do not meet all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, the person or gleaner who donates the food and grocery products shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability in accordance with this section if the nonprofit organization that receives the donated food or grocery products-
(1) is informed by the donor of the distressed or defective condition of the donated food or grocery products;
(2) agrees to recondition the donated food or grocery products to comply with all the quality and labeling standards prior to distribution; and
(3) is knowledgeable of the standards to properly recondition the donated food or grocery product.
(f) CONSTRUCTION.—This section shall not be construed to create any liability.
SEC. 403. EFFECT OF SECTION. 402
The model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (provided in section 402) is intended only to serve as a model law for enactment by the States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories and possessions of the United States. The enactment of section 402 shall have no force or effect in law.
Goodies - 30 minute gourmet gathering
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Grapes & Strawberries for the Homeless
Genetically Engineered Food Causes Problems like Death
Mass death of Sheep from grazing GE cotton field
At least 1,820 sheep were reported dead after grazing on post-harvest Bt cotton crops; the symptoms and post-mortem findings strongly suggest they died from severe toxicity.
Genetically Engineered Food
Alarming Facts About GE Food from http://www.psrast.org/intro1.htm
Alarming facts about
genetically engineered foods
* Animals have become seriously ill or died from Genetically Engineered (GE) foods
* Hazardous genes from GE foods that you eat can become inserted into your own genes
* An unexpected poison killed 37 persons eating a food supplement produced by GE bacteria. This disaster was not coincidental:
* Top researchers confirm that genetic engineering is inherently unsafe and unpredictable. It may therefore generate unexpected harmful substances in GE food
* Numerous studies have demonstrated that GE causes "non-target effects" in addition to the specific "desired effect". These effects are little understood, completely unpredictable and may be hazardous to the individual and the environment. This underscores the fundamental unsafety of genetic engineering.
* The present procedure for assesing the safety of GE foods is not designed to detect unexpected substances
* Therefore, harmful substances may appear in GE food approved as food
* Still, GE foods are sold in most food stores in the US and in many other countries
* In the US and Canada, they are not even labeled
What is genetic engineering?
Warning for disinformation at the internet. Corporations systematically misuse the internet for confusing people about issues and organizations that threaten their interests.
Genetically Engineered (GE) = Genetically Modified (GM) = Genetically Altered.
What foods are genetically engineered?
Many common foods are, including: Corn, Soy, Wheat, Canola, Tomato , Potato , Rice , Cantaloupe , Sugar beet - (all kinds of sugar) , Radicchio , Flax (linseed) , Papaya , Squash , Oilseed rape, Alfalfa.
All of these, and products made of them, including common infant feeds, may contain unexpected harmful substances.
And remember, in the US, the GE foods are not labeled.
In order to make it easy for you to rapidly get a good idea about the issue, we have created an introduction in steps with increasing amounts of detail at each step.
Our main conclusions at a glance
Commercial application of genetic engineering for production of foods cannot be scientifically justified and carries with it unpredictable and potentially serious consequences.
The reasons are as follows:
# The knowledge about the genes and how they work is too incomplete to make it possible to predict and understand all consequences of genetic engineering.
# The knowledge about the health safety of GE foods is seriously incomplete.
# The knowledge about the environmental safety of GE organisms is seriously incomplete.
# It has been scientifically established that unexpected effects can occur from genetic engineering that are hazardous to health and the surroundings.
# Science has established that there is no need for GE organisms for feeding the world or solving nutritional deficiency problems.
# Food biotechnology perpetuates environmentally unsustainable industrial agriculture. It is based on chemicals of various kinds that are demonstratedly harmful to health and to the environment.
Why GE foods should be banned immediately
Considering that GE organisms are unsafe to eat and that they expose the environment to unpredictable and irreversible risks, they should be banned. It is not justified to take any risk at all in using them as there is no need for them to feed the world and because they perpetuate unsustainable agriculture that is harmful to health and to the environment.
On the following pages you will find more details explaining our position.
Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of
Science and Technology (PSRAST)
This website was created in december 1996
Last update: May 15, 2008
Great Blog about Eating for $1 a Day
A couple is going to eat on $1 a day for a month like most of the world does. Follow how they do it here!
Another Good Freegan Blog
Secret Freegan featured in U.S. News & World Report
Thanks, Dear Prudence for mentioning my savory freegan food photos!
Rescued cakes and flower bouquets heading for the shelter!
Rescued fruits and vegetables ready to sort for shelter!
Tons of rescued food under Hannukah bush ready for homeless shelter!
Boxes of rescued food for Phoenix homeless shelter
More Rescued Food Ready to Sort
Wild Green Links!
Food Rescue - 6 Boxes Like This Thrown Out Every Night
Phoenix, Arizona Rescued Food
Stores Waste is my Abundance
Stores waste $600-$2100 food/day
A couple days ago on my regular noon "food run" where I drive a short distance to a local chain grocery store, I found lots of cold yogurt, milk, grapefruit juice, orange juice, lettuce, and more. Kept enough for my family and donated the rest. I stood beside the bin and picked up the items with my Grabber tool and put them into a box, then took the box to my car parked 20 feet away, and repeated the process. I always take empty boxes in case the store throws things away without leaving them in big boxes like they usually do. Saves a lot of trips going to the car.
Thank you for sharing comments and experiences about urban harvesting.