One of the most common questions I get from people about my travels is how I manage to stick with my organic vegan diet while traveling with almost no money, and more than that, feed tons of people that same medicine food. There is no one answer to that, as it involves a combination of home-grown foods, farmers’ markets, shopping the “reduced produce” shelf, and dumpster diving.
For some reason, “western” culture is so dedicated to upholding the illusion of scarcity that businesses would rather (or are legally obligated to) throw pounds of food every day into the landfill than give it away. A lot of people tend to get stuck on that inefficiency, complaining about the percentage of food in America that ends up in the trash, and sometimes even asking for violent threats to be used against any company that throws edible food away (I've heard "Let's pass a law like France that requires companies to donate their out-dated food" far too much recently) . As with any issue, once you are aware of it, the best thing you can do is focus on possible solutions to it. In this case, by simply visiting your local grocery stores a little after they close, you are not only feeding people for free, but you are turning a “loss” as the company sees it into abundance.
Like so many things in the paradigm that we are transitioning out of, the idea that there isn’t enough food is not only based on a scarcity-mindset (and therefore not in alignment with reality), but is factually untrue.
On a logistical note, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's & Sprouts often have compactors (as do almost all Kroger or Safeway store) but it's worth checking. Natural Grocers, on the other hand, I've never seen a compactor, or even usually locks; they also separate their trash & compost. All you need is a headlamp and some gloves.
Saturday, March 12th: Our abundance-reclamation team came up with (on a very short run, about 15 miles round trip and maybe an hour of our time) 20+ pounds of potatoes (none of which were soft, sprouted, or moldy), 5 bags of apples (each of which had 2-3 smashed ones and 8-10 perfect ones), and apparently one store had emptied its meat freezer.
While I personally do not consume meat, I know a lot of people who will eat these finds. The only thing I find worse than raising these animals in captivity for the explicit purpose of killing them, is to then throw away the meat, which is the entire justification for the genocide to begin with, “We need meat to feed people”. All of this meat was still packaged, still frozen, and it will be perfectly usable for many months to come. Sticker price on all this meat was just about $690. Let that sink in for a minute…
Here’s the breakdown of the meat that was tossed out:
11x Beef Tenderloin (7oz) 9x New York Strip (10oz) 4x Rib-eye (10oz) 10x Beef Stew Meat (16oz) 3x Whole Chickens (~4Lbs) 1x Chicken Breast (1Lb) 1x Pork Chop (1Lb) 1x Salmon Filet (8oz)
Wednesday, June 1: Tonight was ridiculously amazing. I took my friend Crash on his first run, and after 2 (of a planned 6) stores, we had to stop back at the Liberty Lodge to unload supplies before heading out to get the rest. After about 2 hours of the actual run, and another 2-3 hours cleaning, everything was packed into the refrigerators to the point that it was actually spilling out when you opened the door to one (see that top photo)
Monday, July 25: Tonight was a night of yogurt! Apparently one store had an item or 5 explode in their dairy cooler, and instead of cleaning off the products that got splattered (with what I believe was sour cream), threw it all in the dumpster. I didn't manage to haul out nearly everything that was there, and I've found that most of the milk I bring back still ends up getting thrown away, not many dairy-drinkers in this community. I did manage to rescue a LOT of coconut, almond, and grassfed-cow yogurts :-) That's about $110 in yogurt you see right here, most of it dated for August 10th or so.
Originally posted to my website on March 13th, edited to include other great runs.