Should I Dumpster Dive? Would You?

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dumpster divingWow.. I just watched a great documentary last night called Dive.   And it’s about what you think.. dumpster diving for food.  Right now it’s playing on Netflix.. you should definitely watch it if you have access.

Would you do it?  Does it gross you out? Fascinate you?  The movie was very interesting, it gave a statistic (which I have not researched) that between farming, production, sales.. then into the dumpster Americans waste 50% of the food they produce.  That is a staggering amount.. and really sad when you thing of the people who don’t have enough.

I find it most interesting that just the act of putting it in the dumpster is what makes the food inedible to many people.  Much of the food that is thrown out is not even past it’s expiration.. and even if it were it would probably still be fine. If they would let us walk in the store at closing time and load up our carts with nearly expired food for free many of us would be busting down the doors.

Also See: So I had to write to Rachael Ray today..

I watched in the movie them pull out package after package of meats (some organic) from a Trader Joe’s dumpster.  One scene showed an entire bag of $15 (probably organic) chickens.. tossed to make way for fresher food.  There were bags of produce, packaged salads.. it goes on.

Some of this food is donated.. I know it is because I have seen it locally.. but much is still wasted.

So.. would you dumpster dive if you knew in a night or two you could fill your freezer with meat for the year (as they did in the documentary).  Another blog I read said that one guy found an entire case of unopened high quality olive oil.

If dumpster dive is not appealing to you how can you help cut down on food waste?

It’s a lot of “food” for thought.

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  1. Nancy C. says

    I dumpster dive once a year, every May. I am a facukty member at a small college in a rural area. Every year, the students madly cull their belongings so that they fit in the car for the return home. They throw out all sorts of things, including money. One year I found $365, another a $100 grocery store gift card. Most years I am able to gather enough laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, and lotion to last the year. In addition, we find a lot of canned goods, preprepared foods, and some staples (e.g. flour,sugar). Generally, the rule is all food must be sealed, since who knows how long that food has been sitting in the fridge. I’vr found entire cases of fruit cups, lots of micro. popcorn, pasta, etc. I look forwardto this ritual every year.

  2. says

    I see nothing wrong in dumpster diving – if the food is still wrapped – it’s much better than it going to landfill. It’ something I would like to learn more about
    A lot of waste could be saved (and money!) if people just planned their weekly meals and shopped for just what they needed and didn’t get tempted by special offers and discounts except on food that was on the shopping list anyway.

  3. Doe K. says

    My hubby used to do that, not as much for food as household items. I haven’t bought liquid hand soap for close to 10 years, since he found a whole case of it and my hubby still has a box of socks, thus eliminating the need to purchase any (for close to 10 years.) It is such a pity how much beautiful stuff is thrown out.

    The only issue is that dumpster diving isn’t very legal everywhere and one must be very careful not to get thrown out into the BIG dumpster truck that picks the trash up. (LOL- as almost happened to hubby.)

    If anyone does go diving, happy digging to you. :-)

  4. Michelle says

    My husband currently does this…not normally for food but scrap metal and other things like that. Admittedly, I had mixed feelings about it at first but quickly found an appreciation for it. It is amazing what a person can find. He has brought home leather binders that had birth certificates, school graduation certificates and other personal documents inside. When possible, I try to return to person listed and when not, shred them. He brought in a box of various 20 oz sodas last night, several cleaning supplies, ziploc plastic containers that were unused, couple large bulletin boards and several post it note pads. He does have one dumpster he loves to get food items from – Subway bread and cookie dough. Amazing how many cases are thrown out daily.

  5. NYCLady says

    It’s such a shame. Here in NYC, the amount of food that restaurants, stores, etc waste in a week, could feed the entire nation for a month! We do have a lot of organizations that rescue food for the hungry but, too much is still wasted.

  6. mjs says

    I work for a food pantry, I would never dumpster dive when I can get good food with my coupons and also good meat marked down and poultry tooooo… I find the whole dumpster diving very turned off by it..I embarrass rich people I know into donating to the food pantry and food bank..a check written is mighty helpful, we get food from USDA but with the cutbacks in food stamps lots of people will be starving..I hope your readers will consider a donation to a food bank and or pantry, many depend upon it for their food..Christmas is once a year but hunger is everyday, please consider donating and not diving, we cannot accept food from dumpsters where I volunteer..thanks your holidays will be very bright helping to feed the many many hungry in the USA~!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Rosemary says

    I would not take food from a dumpster. My family gets a lot of building materials and kindling from construction dumpsters. My husband works for a company that builds and renovates beautiful homes. Often the owner says to just throw out doors, windows, trim…I have rescued furniture as well, but I would not take food. I have worked for restaurants my whole life and, if we have thrown it out, it is NOT edible. We use every bit of everything-bones for stock, the tops of peppers are minced for soup, stems of herbs flavor broth-that is edible. It’s too bad not all restaurants do this. I think chain restaurants are more likely to toss good food than small business owners. There is a movement, called “free-gans” that dumpster dive. I supposed if it was bottled and sealed, but you never know if the products have come in contact with raw meat, or if wrapped meats have been kept at the appropriate temperature to be safe to eat. With careful planning you can save a lot of money on food with coupons and sales. I feed a family of four for $88 a week, including toiletries.

  8. says

    Nancy, thank you for the idea to dumpster dive when students leave college for the summer! Brilliant. But we definitely dumpster dive. You wouldn’t believe what places like whole foods and trader Joe’s throw out. It’s unreal, and we usually score $30 worth of goods each time. The cold weather helps freshness. I love getting free things, especially when they would normally cost more than I’m willing to spend on them.

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