Wednesday, September 02, 2009
One man's trash... as they say.
I got sucked into watching this documentary on tv last night about people who eat unconventional diets (like vegan raw foodists). They had this one lady on there who was a Freegan. Have you ever heard of this? These people live by principles of anti-consumerism. They try to scavenge everything they use - clothes, laundry detergent, soap, furniture and even food. They followed this lady around New York city as she went on a "Trash Tour" gathering food out of trash cans.
I'm not sure what I think about this. I mean, they weren't eating rotten or half-eaten food. They were finding food in packages, unopened, maybe close to the expiration date. Or food from restaurants and shops that just discard everything at the end of the day. Outside of one bagel shop that has "fresh bagels every day" they found bags of bagels made earlier that morning that didn't sell, just put out for trash. Same thing with fruits and vegetables. Cartons of eggs - if one egg was broken, the whole dozen was thrown out. Ready-to-eat meals in packages like soups, sandwiches, etc.
The idea doesn't sound particularly appetizing to me, but in the same token, it is shocking and disappointing how much STUFF we throw away in this country. I remember years ago being in a store after Christmastime where they were pulling wrapping paper off the shelves and putting it in a big trash bin. I asked what they were going to do with it and the clerk said, oh, just throw it away. I was horrified. I asked her why they don't donate it to a shelter or some place that provides toys for underpriviliged children to wrap presents. She said she didn't know, but I dug further and it turns out it messes up profit margins to do stuff like that. Supply and demand. People or companies have to pay for the "free" paper that goes to shelters. If the paper is somehow recycled, it causes paper to be less valuable - if supply goes up, demand goes down and prices go down. When I worked at a restaurant we threw away tons of food. Especially on the days we had buffets. Trays and trays of food went into the garbage.
Anyway, like I said, I'm not sure how I feel about this, and I'd never think of doing it myself. But it's still heartbreaking in a tragic postmodern way.