Why I'm Furious #3

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Photo Credit: Jonathan Rausseo

Despite being almost 50 years old in origin, 'Freeganism' is not a very well known philosophy. It's a way of life in which people attempt to eliminate their negative environmental and economic impact on the world by living only off of, well, garbage. If Jimmy dislikes his sandwich and decides to throw it in the trash, Bill can take that opportunity to indulge on Jimmy's half eaten 'waste-food' and eat that sandwich himself. By eating what would have been garbage anyway, Bill ate a meal that didn't require production AND he saved something from the landfill. A Sandwich saved is a sandwich earned.

"They eat garbage?! That's disgusting!!!"

If that food was a half-eaten Jimmy-slobber sandwich, I would agree with you. If that food was infested with mold and disease and decay, I would agree with you. If that food was actually inedible, I would agree with you. Freeganism would just be the nice way of saying 'rat mimicry'. But like that quiche I garbage once upon a dinner, a lot of our 'waste' food is just the result of high consumer demand.

FORTY PERCENT of the produced food in the US (Sorry, I couldn't find any reputable Canadian statistics) is thrown in the trash (Source). We've been struggling with an economy issue for the last 2 years, yet we're content to spend 590 bucks a year PER PERSON on food we end up throwing in the garbage. Every year NINETY SIX BILLION POUNDS of food are thrown away in the US. About ONE PERCENT of that food waste is composted, and the rest gets tossed in the landfill, where it produces copious amounts of methane as it attempts to decompose.
Thats a lot of food. Thats a lot of waste. Thats a lot of methane.

"But how is it possible that we throw out THAT much? 2/5ths of what I plan to put in my stomach gets put in the trash? Preposterous. If it was edible, I ate it"

If you've seen what I've seen in the university garbages over the past few Katima-months, you wouldn't be so sure; Pounds upon pounds upon pounds of still-wrapped-in-plastic day old bread. Hundreds of thousands of 'bruised' fruits and vegetables. Entire 12" Subway sandwiches (yes, that's plural). Unopened, untouched bottles of Coka-cola, Pepsi, Vitamin-water, and juice. I found a cook struggling to push a garbage bin to the curb.

"Looks heavy! Do you need help?"
"Yeah, thanks" I help push. It must weigh 200 pounds
"What the hell is in this??"
"What!! Why are you throwing out so much!?! What's wrong with them??"
"Nothings wrong with them. The cafeteria's closed for the day! We have no more use for them."

I was shocked and appalled. Naturally the premature Freegan in me grabbed a big container and shoveled as many potatoes into it as I could. He was right: The potatoes, the 200 hundred pounds of potatoes being sent to the landfill, were delicious and completely edible. The cafeteria would wheel the exact same bin of potatoes the next day. And the next day. And every day after that.

Before you look at Freegans with disgust, take a stroll past the dumpsters of your local Walmart or Loblaws and try to imagine the same amount of waste in perfectly edible food being thrown out day after day after day.

So tell me: Who's the disgusting one?


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