pátek 24. července 2009

Dumpster Diving: Good Way to Eat Cheap?

More and more people are getting laid off this year. That may sound like a broken record but it's still happening with an unemployment rate of 9.5% in June up from 9/4% in May.
Money is tight. People have different ways of treating themselves in financial binds. Singer & songwriter John Dyer bought cheap beer and drank at home. Actor Jean Claude Van Damme is said to have enjoyed Taco Bell Sundays when he was poor. And circus knife-thrower Okra P. Dingle used to make smoked oyster sandwiches on hot dog buns.

And then there's dumpster diving. Being consumer-free isn't too hard if you know where to look.

The first time I had dumpster food was on tour. Some folks hosted us and gave us toothbrushes, pretzels and some other stuff. I thanked them and they told me it was no problem -- they'd retrieved all that stuff from dumpsters. It was still good and in the original packaging. Later, I found out that people around New York City did this all the time.

When I was a kid living in Germany, my folks and their friends would go "junking." This was driving around the neighborhoods and looking for cool stuff and then cleaning it up. We found a nice huge wooden chest next to the garbage. We cleaned it up and put a new coat of varnish on it. We also found a lot of coal bins that we found a lot of uses for.

A lot of dumpster diving requires some goodwill to the shop owners. Sometimes restaurants will throw out pizza in clean garbage bags. You just need to make sure after you sift through the bag you close it afterward in order to keep them from getting fined by the city.

Produce, baked goods and especially pre-packaged items can be found in good order. Your gut instinct is mainly intended for discerning what goes in your mouth. But, if you're still unsure there are people who can help.

Freegan.info is a good resource for residents in New York City. They have meet ups and will help you find places that have decent free food that's been thrown away.

The Freegans go beyond regular dumpster diving and offer programs or information about frugal activities, such as building bikes from found bike parts, making your own clothes, recycling computer equipment, composting, classes on medicinal wild plants and more.

For dumpster diving info in your local area, you can check here for information on meet ups around town.


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