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Diving for dinner: Scavengers make statement in trash bins
billings gazette ^ | December 12, 2004 | BY MONSY ALVARADO

Posted on 12/27/2004 3:30:59 PM PST by KneelBeforeZod

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Peaches, plums, oranges, cantaloupe, butternut squash, red peppers, jicama, a mess of cucumbers.

All fragrant, ripe, ready to eat.

And all plucked out of Dumpsters by a squad of young friends who feed on the edible treasures they find in the garbage of North Jersey's restaurants and markets.

They're known as freegans -- though Dumpster-divers might be more apt. They have the resources to buy their food, but they prefer harvesting it this way to make a political statement.

"It feels good when you watch all those people paying for food," Jeff Wiesner, a 19-year-old from Tenafly, N.J., said as he popped a piece of fruit in his mouth. "It's a Dumpster. You might get a little dirty, but it's not a big deal."

Wiesner knelt over a 10-pound sack of onions he found in a Dumpster outside a busy market and put several aside -- to go with a plastic container stuffed with pieces of cantaloupe and watermelon.

Nearby, inside the bins, his friends rummaged through black plastic bags filled with limes, oranges, red peppers and other fruits and vegetables.

Wiesner and his friends -- and many others who have also proclaimed themselves freegans -- say they are protesting capitalism and the wastefulness they say it creates.

"Being freegan is one way in which we are living a life that is consistent with the kind of world that we want to create," said Adam Weissman, 26, of Hackensack. "In terms of people having ownership of their lives and in terms of consuming in a way that is not destroying the planet."

Ted Botha, the author of "Mongo: Adventures in Trash," spent three years interviewing people in Manhattan and New Jersey who snatch all sorts of items from the garbage.

He found that freegans differ from other collectors because they usually work in groups, share their finds and do their picking for a political cause.

"They are very socially conscious people," Botha said. "They want to save the world, and that's one of the ways to save the world. They don't waste."

Susan Kraus, a clinical dietitian at Hackensack University Medical Center, said she worries about the health risks of Dumpster dining. Besides food-borne bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli, food can be contaminated by other types of trash, she said.

"Even though it might be a Dumpster for food, they may be putting supplies they use for dishwashers or other cleaning chemicals," she said.

The freegans say they are selective and eat from Dumpsters that are brimming with unsold food that normally isn't mixed with other trash. The food is usually tossed by supermarkets and restaurants to make room for fresher items. They don't worry about rodents or other animals, because they have yet to see one, they said.

"I use my senses more than anything else, and I find that 98 to 99 percent of the time it tends to be good," Weissman, a former security guard, said of the food.

And there is a lot of food left for the picking.

A 1997 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that close to 96 billion pounds of food -- 27 percent of the 356 billion pounds available for consumption -- were lost at the retail, consumer and food-service levels.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, grain products and sweeteners accounted for two-thirds of those losses.

Those figures are what drive freegans, who usually eat only vegetables, fruits and grains, to continue their crusade.

"There is so much food out there, and you have to learn to make the best use of it now," said Saiya Miller, 15, of Wyckoff, N.J. "And we need to let people know that it's not working out and changes need to happen."

But exploring trash for food, books or CDs is not always met with open arms. Divers say they have been stopped, questioned and patted down by police, who chase them away, saying they are trespassing.

"I tried to explain the whole thing, but they just don't get it," Wiesner said.

Parents aren't happy either. Freegans say their folks have been alarmed, disgusted and disturbed by their rummaging lifestyle.

"My parents don't like it so much; they refuse to eat it," said Matt Pulgrano, 19, of Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J. "I can't keep it in the house, I have to keep it in the garage freezer."

And police say that, because Dumpsters are on private property, the freegans are trespassing and could face a disorderly persons complaint.

"I would think that owners would be concerned over liability," said Richard Cary, deputy police chief in Paramus, N.J. "If you have people going into the Dumpsters, the stores would be liable for anything that happens to them in that Dumpster."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: New Jersey
KEYWORDS: dumpsterdiving; freegan; yuck

1 posted on 12/27/2004 3:30:59 PM PST by KneelBeforeZod
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To: KneelBeforeZod

PETA should be after these nuts for stealing food out of the mouths of starving racoons, oppossums, dogs, and cats. /sarcasm


2 posted on 12/27/2004 3:37:58 PM PST by BradyLS (DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!)
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To: KneelBeforeZod
""It feels good when you watch all those people paying for food," Jeff Wiesner, a 19-year-old from Tenafly, N.J., said as he popped a piece of fruit in his mouth."

Ha ha ha! Look at those sanity fools. Paying for their food, not getting salmonella or botulism and maintaining a ridiculous clean appearance. If only they were as high minded as me.

3 posted on 12/27/2004 3:41:10 PM PST by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: KneelBeforeZod
"I would think that owners would be concerned over liability," said Richard Cary, deputy police chief in Paramus, N.J. "If you have people going into the Dumpsters, the stores would be liable for anything that happens to them in that Dumpster."

Absolutely. I could see freegans and fancy lawyers going after restaurant owners for "giving" them inedible trash. Restaurant owners need to go after freegans and police pre-emptively by charging them wth burglary.

4 posted on 12/27/2004 3:41:39 PM PST by BradyLS (DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!)
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To: BradyLS

Grrr... That should be: "Restaurant owners and police need to go after freegans pre-emptively by charging them wth burglary."


5 posted on 12/27/2004 3:43:44 PM PST by BradyLS (DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!)
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To: KneelBeforeZod

"In terms of people having ownership of their lives and in terms of consuming in a way that is not destroying the planet."

The nobility of dumpster diving. The next time some bum asks me for change, I'll advise him to do the right thing and direct him to the nearest dumpster.


6 posted on 12/27/2004 3:43:58 PM PST by Spok
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To: KneelBeforeZod

"Wiesner and his friends -- and many others who have also proclaimed themselves freegans -- say they are protesting capitalism and the wastefulness they say it creates."

They're also eating feces of every fly and cockroach that crosses the food before they get to it. That alone carries about sixteen different kinds of diseases with it. I hope they feel good about that.


7 posted on 12/27/2004 3:45:32 PM PST by writer33 (The U.S. Constitution defines a conservative.)
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To: KneelBeforeZod

If middle-class kids can find decent meals from dumpster-diving, then what are the excuses of the bums and panhandlers I see in the streets of Boston?


8 posted on 12/27/2004 3:46:29 PM PST by SamAdams76 (No intolerant liberal is going to take my Christmas away from me)
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To: KneelBeforeZod
"Being freegan is one way in which we are living a life that is consistent with the kind of world that we want to create," said Adam Weissman, 26, of Hackensack.

Where everyone is unemployed and eating garbage? It sounds like a true liberal utopia!

"In terms of people having ownership of their lives and in terms of consuming in a way that is not destroying the planet."

I wish they'd come to our garbage cans. We pay by the pound to get rid of our garbage.
Do you think we could talk them in to eating tin cans, too? They can save the earth, and save us the cost of garbage removal at the same time!

9 posted on 12/27/2004 3:47:26 PM PST by concerned about politics (Vote Republican - Vote morally correct!)
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To: writer33

Look at it positively - they are getting a part of survival training which might become necessary for some special forces. They should be immediately drafted and put to good use.


10 posted on 12/27/2004 3:49:17 PM PST by GSlob
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To: Eaker; RikaStrom; Flyer; Squantos
"Being freegan is one way in which we are living a life that is consistent with the kind of world that we want to create," said Adam Weissman, 26, of Hackensack.

Ahhh, a bum.
That by any other name doth a bum smell as sweet?

11 posted on 12/27/2004 3:49:33 PM PST by humblegunner (And who knows what else?)
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To: writer33
"They're also eating feces of every fly and cockroach that crosses the food before they get to it.
That alone carries about sixteen different kinds of diseases with it. I hope they feel good about that."


Kinda sorta makes me wanna use any local restauarnts dumpster as an emergency 'Urination Station'

"But Officer, dont you know putting it off too long can give you uromisotisis'!
12 posted on 12/27/2004 3:50:55 PM PST by 45semi (Man has only those rights he can defend...)
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To: KneelBeforeZod

Even if the eclair is on top of the magazine, if it's in the trash can it's garbage.


13 posted on 12/27/2004 3:51:17 PM PST by Uncledave
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To: GSlob

I guess that's one way of putting it.


14 posted on 12/27/2004 3:51:27 PM PST by writer33 (The U.S. Constitution defines a conservative.)
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To: KneelBeforeZod

When I was a kid we had a word for these people: Bums.


15 posted on 12/27/2004 3:52:15 PM PST by Clemenza (Morford 2008: Not that there's anything wrong with it!)
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To: KneelBeforeZod

what a bunch of bin-boys


16 posted on 12/27/2004 3:52:53 PM PST by SF Republican
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To: KneelBeforeZod
Related Threads:

Americans Waste Vast Amounts of Edible Food ["Freegans"!]

Free Lunch: Freegans Prove There Is Such A Thing As They Dumpster-Dive for Food

Trash Holds Culinary Delights for Freegans

Trash Holds Culinary Delights for Freegans

17 posted on 12/27/2004 3:53:12 PM PST by Incorrigible (immanentizing the eschaton)
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To: 45semi

Funny. And I haven't even touched on the rodent population in New Jersey either. I hope they know they're fifteenth or sixteenth down the line on this food. So go ahead and urinate at will. :)


18 posted on 12/27/2004 3:53:35 PM PST by writer33 (The U.S. Constitution defines a conservative.)
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To: SamAdams76

"If middle-class kids can find decent meals from dumpster-diving, then what are the excuses of the bums and panhandlers I see in the streets of Boston?"

Sam! That has to be the third or fourth time you've taken the thoughts right out of my fingertips, LOL! (You obviously type faster than I do.)

The deli next door to where I work throws out the best stuff...I take it home and feed it to my chickens, though one day they tossed an entire flat of slightly over-ripe strawberries so I made jam. I washed them well and any germs were killed in the cooking process; no one died.

A little dumpster divin' never hurt anyone, but this is the midwest and we have pretty clean garbage, LOL! I don't think I'd eat out of a big city dumpster, though.


19 posted on 12/27/2004 3:54:20 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Spok; Eaker
The next time some bum asks me for change, I'll advise him to do the right thing and direct him to the nearest dumpster.

You are mean spirited.
We should help the bums.

Always remind them to get a job, as soon as possible.
They need reminding.

I tell 'em every day.

I ask no payment for this, I'm just doing my part...

20 posted on 12/27/2004 4:00:06 PM PST by humblegunner (And who knows what else?)
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To: KneelBeforeZod

Hackensack N.J. 'nuff said.


21 posted on 12/27/2004 4:03:43 PM PST by Shellback Chuck (Hey John, whose your daddy?)
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To: humblegunner

"Always remind them to get a job, as soon as possible.
They need reminding."

I've been tempted to make a cardboard sign that says
"I DO work for food."


22 posted on 12/27/2004 4:04:11 PM PST by Spok
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To: KneelBeforeZod

The Left: Saving the world one outrageously stupid stunt at a time.

APf


23 posted on 12/27/2004 4:05:19 PM PST by APFel (Humanity has a poor track record of predicting its own future.)
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To: BradyLS
I could see freegans and fancy lawyers going after restaurant owners for "giving" them inedible trash.

I'd think an attorney could write up a short disclaimer to be placed on the dumpster:

"Any and all food items placed in this receptacle have been deemed unsuitable for human consumption.

The proprietors and the waste management company assume no risk for those who disregard this warning."

Might work

24 posted on 12/27/2004 4:08:38 PM PST by Freebird Forever
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To: KneelBeforeZod
In case of food poisoning keep the names and addresses of these food dis-carders handy.
It is these businesses that make it possible to poison oneself.
Every trial lawyer worth his salt when armed with witnesses and addresses of establishments then will really be able to do some heavy harvesting.
25 posted on 12/27/2004 4:11:27 PM PST by hermgem
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To: SamAdams76
If middle-class kids can find decent meals from dumpster-diving, then what are the excuses of the bums and panhandlers I see in the streets of Boston?

The suburban kids are on a lark, and all the bums really want is booze or drugs. I actually knew one of these types in college (a bandmate of my apartment mate's). He thought he was making a political statement by living in a tree house and eating garbage. His tree house was in his parent's backyard, located in one of the city's wealthiest suburbs...
26 posted on 12/27/2004 4:11:33 PM PST by Welsh Rabbit
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To: KneelBeforeZod
>> they are protesting capitalism and the wastefulness they say it creates.

Try socialism, children. Socialism cannot produce enough to house, clothe and feed the people, so nothing is is left to waste. What ends up wasted is the people, their working lives and their hopes.

27 posted on 12/27/2004 4:12:08 PM PST by T'wit (Not knowing right from wrong is [a] liberal philosophy and [b] the definition of criminal insanity.)
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To: BradyLS
It'll be interesting when one of these idots dies of food poisoning and his family sues the store in front of the dumpster.

It WILL happen!

28 posted on 12/27/2004 4:27:31 PM PST by FixitGuy
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To: BradyLS
I this would be a real nice way to get hepatitis.
29 posted on 12/27/2004 4:48:47 PM PST by glockmeister40
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To: KneelBeforeZod

Adventures in Trash? wth????? these twits have waaaaaaaay to much time on their hands, will dumpster diving become an olympic event????????? LOL!


30 posted on 12/27/2004 4:49:23 PM PST by rockabyebaby (What goes around, comes around!)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Great tag line!


31 posted on 12/27/2004 4:52:07 PM PST by rockabyebaby (What goes around, comes around!)
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To: KneelBeforeZod
Two things about this article strike me as glaringly obvious.

1)We as a country are wasting too much food. Wasted food is wasted money and wasted effort.

2)You don't correct that problem by eating garbage. By the time it's in the garbage can it's too late. Why not just battle with the rats at the local landfill?

32 posted on 12/27/2004 5:10:36 PM PST by elmer fudd
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To: KneelBeforeZod
Gotta give them credit for organization tho.

This webisite http://freegan.info/?page=LocalDirectories actually gives information about where to go diving in certain cities. They actually complain that they can't get into the dumpsters of some health food stores--ha ha!

Wish I lived near one of these cities, this could be a GREAT list to have

33 posted on 02/02/2006 3:51:21 PM PST by SoftballMominVA
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