Stories

Dumpster Diving: Exposing the World’s Food Waste

 

When I began to research food waste around the world, I was in shock, and when Cody and I started dumpster diving, I was beside myself!

Years ago, when Cody told me that he would go dumpster diving in the U.S while on tour with his band, it grossed me out. I was under the impression that he was knee deep in dumpster juice, pulling out soggy unwrapped food items.

Dumpster Diving

Dumpster Diving

Our first dive at a local grocery store provided us with a few heads of broccoli that I immediately turned into a garlic broccoli dish. The plant was perfectly intact. It just had a few brown spots on it.

Our next few dives dropped my jaw.

Dumpster Diving

One of our first hauls from Dumpster Diving.

Since we have started dumpster diving, we have easily pulled out over $5000 worth of food.

We have found boxes of dried cranberries, bags of pecans, bags of blueberries, trail mix, a mountain of vegan energy bars, asparagus, peppers, acorn squash, almond milk, expensive coffee, kombucha, soy yogurt, organic carrots, rice cakes, organic vegan chocolate, grapefruits, cookie mix, pineapples, frozen vegetables, pumpkin seeds, coconut water, granola, chips, liquorice, apples, kale, orange juice, Lara bars, noodles, dried fruit, seitan steaks, gourmet tofu, olive oil, dish soap, soda, acai berry juice, hummus, quinoa, and even a brand new sleep apnea machine that we sold for $500.

That’s right, a medical store disposed of a new sleep apnea machine most likely because it would have cost them more money to ship it back to their warehouse, so instead they trashed it.

Dumpster Diving

We even left more behind. Could not take it all.

Everything listed above was still in the package, not rotten, and completely edible, or salvageable, not to mention all vegan. so you can imagine how much we left behind.

Definition of “best before” date.

A best before date refers to the quality of the item on the shelf, not the safety. It is a guarantee from the manufacturer that it will remain its freshest up until that date. once the date has passed, it is still perfectly edible for many days to come.

DSC_5977

I can understand how the idea of dumpster diving would be extremely unappealing to most people, but really what is unappealing is the food waste in this world.

Perfectly good food thrown away, while people everywhere are starving.

Just because something is in the garbage, does not make it trash, rotten, inedible, or useless.

What we are doing is not going to change the system, but it is a protest against the injustice of food waste. It is raising awareness, and it is a commentary on how many of us desire the aesthetics of an item, rather than value it for what it is.

What did we do with all of the food?

We ate it of course! But we had far too much to just keep to ourselves, so we shared it with several friends and family, and even gave a few very large bags of food away to people in need in downtown Toronto.

Dumpster Diving

Even in Saskatchewan we are able to find perfectly fine food.

In the last few years, I have been making a conscious effort to be aware of as much as I can regarding the state of the planet, the animals, and humans that reside here. Somehow I stumbled across the word freeganism, and wanted to learn more.

Freeganism. “The practice of reclaiming food that has been discarded.”

What I learned was shocking.

More than $31 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada every year. This number doesn’t include what is being wasted in schools, hospitals, and prisons.

On the way from the farm to the table, half of the food ends up in the landfill.

Good fresh food is being wasted on a massive scale. Western countries throw out nearly half of their food; not because it’s inedible, but because it doesn’t look appealing.

There is a severe imbalance in how we get things done on this planet, and how we feed people.

When you open up a loaf of bread, do you eat the end parts of the loaf? I do, as it is my favourite part, but have you ever received a sandwich at a restaurant with those ends?

Where do they end up?

A factory that bakes bread in America throws out 13,000 slices of fresh bread ends per day. Multiply that by thousands more in America alone.

Dumpster Diving

Another Saskatchewan haul.

Farmers throw out 1/3 of their yield because of aesthetic appearance.

Thousands of pounds of bananas that don’t have the proper curvature, potatoes that are not shaped properly, peaches that are slightly misshaped, and so on.

Animal lives are also wasted. 40-60% of european fish are discarded at sea.

According to the book Farmageddon, in the u.s. 100,000 cattle, 50 million chickens, and 1.5 million pigs are brutally slaughtered and thrown away. Globally that is close to 12 billion animals lives wasted.

DSC_4293

This is an ecological issue as well. It is known that raising livestock is unsustainable, and the amount of land and water that we use to grow crops to feed animals is gargantuan.

We could be using the wheat, soy, and corn to feed the hungry, but instead animals are raised. The amount of water used, and wasted to raise livestock really should stop everyone in their tracks.

DSC_5987

A country like America has 4 times the food that they need to feed the population, but instead, they feed those crops to livestock for meat.

If you would like to learn more please watch the documentary Just Eat It.

DUMPSTER DIVING

A scene from the documentary Just Eat It.

Our planet can only take so much, and we are reaching the ecological limits that it can bare.

Be aware. We need to make, and demand change.

Eat food that’s good, don’t throw it out.

 

 

Comments To This Entry.
  1. Jojo July 20, 2015 Reply

    Hell Yeah! I love that you two have been dumpster diving (or skipping as we call it in the UK!) Depressingly most of the grocery stores in Brighton now lock their dumpsters and have them behind barbed wire fences which is so gross, like, you’re throwing it away – let people take it!

    • Giselle and Cody July 21, 2015 Reply

      Hey Jojo, good to hear from you! There are plenty of dumpsters that are locked in Canada as well, but luckily plenty that are also unlocked. The amount of food that we have found is just unbelievable! Hope you’re doing well! 🙂

  2. Amelie July 20, 2015 Reply

    This is absolutely nuts! I was aware of people doing it back in Montreal at the fresh market, but I never expected it to be to this extend with packaged food! Shit…

    • Giselle and Cody July 21, 2015 Reply

      It is absolutely nuts Amelie! there is so much packaged food wasted, we can’t even take it all there is so much.

      It’s a great way to save money.

  3. Franca July 22, 2015 Reply

    Oh my, this is madness! I’ve never been dumpster diving (I’d love to though) and I will never get over to how much food gets wasted every day, it’s beyond me.

    • Giselle and Cody July 25, 2015 Reply

      Franca, it is pretty sad when you realize how much is thrown out everyday and, it is very angering considering there are so many hungry people around the world. you start to think about it all the time. we are still is shock and disbelief overtime we jump into a bin and find food.

  4. Dana July 27, 2015 Reply

    Thank you for sharing this story. My boyfriend Ben and I just watched Just Eat It because of your recommendation and it was enough to convince him to go dumpster diving with me (or he’ll at least be dumpster peeking while I dive). Thanks again!

    • Giselle and Cody July 28, 2015 Reply

      That’s so great to hear Dana. Make sure not to get discouraged if you don’t find anything in your first few dives, because it will probably happen. Good luck and please stay in touch and let us know how you do. Where are you from?

      • Dana August 3, 2015 Reply

        We live outside of Philly. If you ever come down this way we’ll take you to all the best vegan spots. 🙂

        • Giselle and Cody August 15, 2015

          Thanks so much for this Dana. We actually might take you up on your offer sometime.

          Really want to do a US road trip sometime. So many great places to check out.

  5. HOLY FOOD! That is crazy…It looks like you robbed a Whole Foods!

    • Giselle and Cody July 28, 2015 Reply

      Hahaha yep pretty much!! It’s crazy to see the prices of these things in the store when I know they are in the dumpster out back.

  6. VeganBackpacking September 9, 2015 Reply

    Wow such big hauls! :O Dumpster diving is still on my to-do list but can’t find a good spot to do so. In the Netherlands they started putting the dumpsters behind big fences and stuff.

    One day, one day I’ll be ‘rich’ and knee-deep in edible ‘garbage’ 🙂

    Thanks for the article! Hope you guys are doing ok
    – Mittch

    • Giselle and Cody September 17, 2015 Reply

      I know right?! The amount of waste the every country accumulates is obscene!

  7. Laura @ Grassroots Nomad January 18, 2016 Reply

    Wow, I can’t believe how much food is thrown away!! Especially as this is just vegan food. Why don’t they donate the food to nearby homeless shelters? Thanks for sharing!

    • Giselle and Cody January 19, 2016 Reply

      Hey Laura, Thanks so much for your comment. Unfortunately many grocery stores do not donate food close to the due date because they are most likely worried about a lawsuit if someone gets sick. It really is a shame that so much food goes to waste when there are so many people in need.

  8. Sam June 3, 2016 Reply

    Those photos of your hauls are just insanity. I knew it was an issue, but damn….think we’re gonna have to start dumpster diving – saving the planet (ok maybe just a tiny bit) and saving money! Win-win. Definitely going to have to check out Just Eat It. Fantastic post!

    • Giselle and Cody June 14, 2016 Reply

      We are definitely getting some crazy hauls and we continue to dumpster dive overtime we are home.
      It’s a great way to save money and recycle perfectly fine food. It’s a shame how much we throw out because of a silly best before date.
      It is all still perfect.

Leave a comment