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Freeganism

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by nick909, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. nick909

    nick909 Lead commenter

    We've discussed recently how food waste is a major concern these days, whether it's households throwing away perfectly edible food or over-buying, or supermarkets using overcautious "best before" dates, but what do we all think of 'freeganism'?
    Interesting article in the Grauniad, doesn't cover any new ground as such. but is it dismaying to see people being prosecuted for it now which sets a sad precedence.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/15/bins-freegans-leftover-food?INTCMP=SRCH
    Could you eat from supermarket bins? Have you? Is it really only just one step away from the hunter gatherer that still resides within our deepest instincts? Why, for example, is harvesting hedgerow dellights such as blackberries and sloes seen as highly acceptable and even fashionable (oddly enough, it seems to have become rather a middle-class pursuit these days!), yet gathering equally edible food from bins has connotations with vagrancy, stealing or scrounging?

     
  2. Never done it from bins. But one of the bakery chains here has an absolutely rigid policy of only fresh bread. So whatever's left each day is given away - usually to charities. But I was was once part of a church related group that was rostered on for this bounty once every 2 or 3 weeks. Sometimes there were more sugary buns than loaves of bread to go around the group - but hey, it was free.
    My feeling is that, long before we start dumpster diving, shoppers generally should be a lot more forgiving of "imperfect", irregular, couple of marks or spots produce and packaging.
     
  3. Back in the bad old Crudsville days, I would have happily (?!!) scrounged from supermarket bins - but they were securely locked!
    I did some volunteer work for a church-run cafe project. I started off pot-washing and doing a little serving, and moved on to book-keeping when they realised that I'm much better with numbers than I am with people!
    Any day that I worked there, I was given a free meal - whatever the 'special' of the day was. At the end of each day any food left over was bagged up and offered to the volunteers. Some days I'd get a couple of sausages, other days a baked potato, maybe a bread roll or two - kind of like a 'lucky-bag' when I was a kid!
    One day H&S heard what was happening and put a stop to it. All left-over food had to be squirted with washing liquid and binned (the washing liquid was to ensure no-one raided the unlocked bin!)
    It was an absolute disgrace! Perfectly good food going to waste when unemployed and student volunteers could have had a decent meal from it!
    On a similar note, there was a local bakery that used to crate up any left over bread and cakes for collection by a homeless project - again the H&S came and forced them to destroy perfectly good bread and cakes.

    This country needs to have a serious rethink about wasting food - both on a personal level (in our own kitchens) and on a bigger supermarket/restaurant level.

     
  4. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Supermarket waste is a topic being covered in The People's Supermarket next Sunday, having touched on it slightly in the first edition. The People's Supermarket find alternatives to throwing it away but I would doubt their solution would be practical for the likes of Tesco.
    Much better, of course, would be to offer it to customers for free rather than destroy it and polute the atmosphere in the process. Mind you, some of the food I've seen on reduced counters ought to have been destroyed as unfit for consumption, so I guess there's a bit more to it. It requires a little bit of intelligence to know that mince is not usually grey and strawberrys going mouldy are past their best.
     
  5. My feeling is that, long before we start dumpster diving, shoppers generally should be a lot more forgiving of imperfect", irregular, couple of marks or spots produce and packaging.
    I agree with that but first, shoppers should be given the choice of perfect or non-perfect foods. At the moment they are not. Supermarkets offer 'basic' buys where say, strawbs are of different sizes,but they can work out more expensive than 'regular' ones. Why can't they, greengrocers, markets etc offer "substandard" goods at a much reduced price? I have no objection to cutting out bruised bits. They will only be thrown away otherwise.
     
  6. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Because they don't have to. They can force the farmers to take back anything they don't feel meets their strict criteria and force us to pay more for "perfect" fruit and veg. There is no incentive for the supermarkets to sell at reduced prices.
     
  7. In high school I worked at a fast food joint initally we were able to take left over food one at the end of the night then environmental health got involved and it was stopped. It was crying shame large numbers of chickens just chucked out. Not good enough! I can justify eating meat but not the wastage of life.
     
  8. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    In the community we've just moved from, we had a quite a few small local shops and if you went in the bakery for a loaf of bread at 1pm for example, they'd give you a couple of croissants as well because they couldn't sell them the next day. Similar with most of the other shops in the area too.
    They threw away virtually no wasted food. My family runs a hotel in Greece and any food they don't serve in the restaurant is put in the staffroom fridge for the staff to eat - wouldn't dream of throwing perfectly good food in the bin when there are people to eat it.
     
  9. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    In a way....yes.
    In my student years I worked every holiday for M&S. At the end of every day food that had reached its 'sell by' date was sold to staff at half price or less. It was called 'Waste' and there was a real rugby scrum to get the best stuff. It was possible to fill a trolley if over-buying was the order of the day.
    M&S no longer sells it's 'waste' to staff. This is the stuff that now makes it to the bins (unless it goes to charity....I'm not sure what they do with it now but they do reduce it on the shlelves first).
    As someone who doesn't believe in 'sell by' dates there is little (but some) waste in our house.
     

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