DumpsterDiveI’m noshing on a toasted blueberry bagel, thinking how wonderful it is to be living off the largess of the machine. By that I mean, the bagel was destined for the landfill before our friends Link and Tim rescued it from a dumpster.

In this country, we have so much food that 40% of it never makes it onto a plate, at least according to a 2004 study. Fortunately, there is a grass roots movement to recoup those calories. For many, those calories represent the difference between eating and eating well.

For example, our friends, Link and Tim recently recovered several sealed and frozen lamb roasts. They cooked it up and fed a couple of dozen people with the meat a couple of weeks ago.

Around here, many of us are invested keeping our food local as opposed to having it shipped in from California, Mexico, South America, Asia and Australia. This is one way of ensuring that we support our local economy while lowering our dependency on petroleum.

A lot of our friends also choose a vegetable based diet to further reduce their food footprint. Freegan is relatively new to our scene, thanks to Link and Tim. There’s been a lot of discussion regarding how this these calories stack up against Local and Vegan calories, both environmentally and ethically.

The general consensus is that Freegan trumps Local and Vegan. However, while Bob and I have made good use of the bread our Freegan dive team has recovered, we passed up the lamb. Meat no longer appeals to us and we were afraid that our stomachs wouldn’t know how to process it.

I enjoy listening to Link and Tim’s tales of their dumpster diving escapades. Much of the action is done under cover of darkness. They drive to their targeted dumpsters late at night when shopkeepers are unlikely to object. One man gets into the dumpster and scouts for unspoiled, packaged food, while the other keeps an eye out for trouble.

It isn’t unusual for them to run into other Freegan divers, while on route. At first Link and Tim weren’t sure what to expect, but soon found out these other divers were more conspiratorial than competitive. They all dive in and share the booty.

When we see Link approaching with a plastic bag these days, we know he’s got something good for trade. We reach into the freezer for a package of Tempeh and settle down at the kitchen table to listen to his latest diving story.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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