Say what? Dumpster diving?

By March 14, 2015 No Comments

Some dream of collecting things, I dream of collecting experiences: It might sound odd (or not, if you know me well), but one of them was “going dumpster diving with someone who knows what he/she is doing”

So when Marie, a PhD student who interviewed me for her thesis on food waste, confided in me that she and her boyfriend dumpster dove on a regular basis, I took a plunge myself: I begged her to take me along.

Contrary to the “waste pick-up on a lovely sunny morning” at the beach that I described last month, this was a much different outing: one that took place at 10 pm, on a chilly night – a time of day when my body yearns to crawl under a fuzzy blanket alongside Scott, and my brain to watch a podcast of Tiny House Hunting 😉

In anticipation of this event, what worried me most, was not:

  1. Getting cold – I’d wear my puff jacket;
  2. Losing my enthusiasm – I had plenty of it!;
  3. Running into critters – I love nature;) or,
  4. Getting caught – if I did and subsequently made headlines: “World famous author dumpster dives for food”, it would have brought attention to food waste, which is a good thing anyways!

But considering the particularities of my lifestyle, I was most afraid of running into the conundrum: what to do with packaging waste? (I mean… right? Only you, faithful readers, can understand.)

So I came prepared with my shopping kit, below. But maybe too much.

When I arrived at our meeting point, I looked like a complete novice, carrying large sturdy totes by my sides -my hosts sported more discreet over the shoulder cotton kinds. One thing is for sure, I looked like I was ready for business! Ready to grocery shop!

My shopping kit

I quickly realized that my kit was overkill: To my surprise, none of the food that we found came packaged, apart from the brown paper bag of bread below which I did not mind taking home for reuse -my clothes shopping day is coming up, so I’ll looking for something to pack my donations.

Ooh, did I feel delinquent and right at the same time doing this! The food that I collected that night had no business being discarded: As you can tell, perfect veggies and fruit! They rightly deserved to be saved from landfill.

Veggies that I could have picked from (inside) the grocery store
A bag of french loaves in the first paper bag that I bring home from a grocery store in 6 years!


Fruits in great condition!

(Note: I was so busy worrying about packaging waste that I completely forgot to take pictures that evening).

This is not an exercise for the germaphobe, and I am clearly not one of them. But being a virgin at it, I picked items that could be peeled: I figured, that it’d make a strong argument to get my skeptic family to take a bite into the fruits of my foray, and eliminating any chance of getting sick might encourage subsequent trips.

That week became the first time that I missed the vegetable peeler that I donated 3 years ago…

Contrary to what I would have expected, it did not bother my family to eat the discarded goods, and we ate it all without fear.

With my bounty I made:

  • Ginger carrot soup
  • Sauteed Zucchinis sprinkled with homegrown herb mix
  • Grilled zucchinis sprinkled with homegrown mint
  • Two apple pies
  • Snacks of apple slices topped with peanut butter
  • Sandwiches for a week’s worth of lunches with the bread.

As you already know, I am a forager at heart, but I am not sure I’ll have the guts to go dumpster diving in my own town. That said, I had a wonderful time and more importantly, I am grateful for Marie allowing me to cross an item off my bucket list!

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