Some Thoughts on Freeganism

nearly one 4

We don’t really take many photos of bins, so we thought we would add some beautiful pictures instead

A comment posted on a post a few days ago got us thinking. Ferret asked us if we had tried, or would ever try Freeganism. For those of you not too sure what this is good old Wikipedia defines it as ‘the practice of reclaiming and eating food that has been discarded’.

This is something that has always fascinated Ian but something he is yet to try. Most Freegans (as far as we can tell) raid supermarket bins after closing time for any food that has passed its sell-by-date, or may have 1 item out of a pack missing. Now Ian is a bit of a scrooge, and so the idea of food for free does appeal to him, but the best reason for this way of life is surely to help cut down on the ridiculous amount of food wasted each year. The food freegans eat has usually been on sale right up until a store closes, at which point it is bagged up and put in the dustbin outside they simply have to then pop round the back and open the bags to see what they can find.

Now as much as it makes us cross that so much good food gets thrown away by supermarket at the end of each day it is good to know that there are people out there making use of this and saving it from landfill or the incinerator.  This is not a problem unique to supermarkets though, we are also aware of huge bags full of food being thrown away at the end of the day by national chains of bakers, cafes and fast food outlets.

Lovely Lyme Regis

Lovely Lyme Regis

Before we completely moan about supermarkets and chain food stores we must say we are aware that several do give left over food at the end of each day to charities, however this could be done much more and would help not only reduce wasted food but help those most in need.

We must also say that we are fully aware that this is not a problem only for supermarkets and national chains, we have seen many a large city market where the bins end up full of food that is either bruised, past its best or just unsellable to the majority of customers (stalks, outer leaves, etc, all of which would make perfectly good greens). We would love to see these larger markets have a stall where this ‘waste’ produce was left to be free to take for say, the last hour of a market, but hey, we know that if producers are giving away their goods for free people are not going to buy their produce full price, so perhaps for the sake of their slender profits this waste is unavoidable…..

Our only experience of Freeganism does in fact come from such a market one lunchtime. One seller had trimmed all of the outer leaves from his Caulis, leaving them in a large crate ready for the dustbin. A quick enquiry later and we had won ourselves more cauliflower leaves than you could shake a stick at for our chickens to enjoy. Now we have to admit, we did give some a go as greens and they were lovely, however as we had so many  the chickens did end up getting most of them, which in turn produced eggs, a good deal from food that was destined for the bin!


So back to question that prompted this post, would we consider raiding supermarket bins for food? We have agreed to not buy anything from a supermarket for a year, but does that still mean we could try freeganism from supermarket dustbins should we so choose to? Whilst we would love to hear your thoughts we will not bore you with another poll just yet, we think that this is one problem we should make our own minds up about.

After some serious Team Pugh debate the answer is that yes, going by the rules we set ourselves we could go to a bin outside a supermarket (please see our legal disclaimer below :))  and remove food for free from their dustbins. But in reality the answer has to be no, we signed up for our challenge for a variety of reasons, one of which was to save food but also to support our local businesses and to avoid supermarkets full stop. It would definitely feel wrong for us to go and get supermarket food, even if we were getting it for free.Freegan 3

Perhaps we could see what we could get in this vein from the larger markets in our nearest city, although to be honest whilst this would help us save money it would not really help support the local businesses, and whilst we are happy to take food for free that is on its way to the bin we would have some hang-ups about food that is already in the bin, particularly seen as it does not get bagged up but rather just tipped in by stall holders!

p.s. As far as we know raiding supermarket bins for food is illegal so this post is in no way an encouragement more a collection of thoughts about a practice carried out by some and……not Team Pugh 🙂 Freegan 2


9 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Freeganism

  1. I used to work in local co-op and I remember them telling me when I started that they had actually taken people to court for freeganisim. Not that I agree with it – I do believe that waste food should be given to somewhere that can use it. E.g. waste fruit and veg could be given to animal sanctuaries or local horse owners etc. I can remember how sickened I was when my bus went through East Dulwich on the way to work and there is a lovely bakery on Lordship Lane that throws away binbags full of bread some days, it made me very sad. The flip side is I did also work for Greggs where they gave all left over watse to charities as one point but had to stop due to some homeless people coming to the stores and getting agressive because they wanted particular sandwiches rather than picking from left over ones. Catch 22 really :/

  2. I agree in principle with Freeganism but have never been in a position to see if I’d ever do it. Perhaps there’s more opportunity if you live in a big town or city, but in a rural village I don’t think I’d drive anywhere specially!
    We have asked for or been given ‘chicken’ fruit and veg and eaten the best bits ourselves though 🙂

  3. Im not sure about raiding bins after closing hours, but I really do think something needs to be done about ‘waste’ food from supermarkets. I love the idea of giving it to charities such as homeless shelters, food banks but in our city it has been stopped (apparently due to ‘Health and Safety’ regulation about short dated/ out dated produce etc. It angers me so much. :o(

  4. Bravo Team Pugh for upholding their values of supporting local traders without which they would have no alternatives from the Supermarkets to choose from. Todays waste though is so obscene and no one seems to notice. I think usable food should go to charities with the rest going for animal foods and composts to go back on the land. I wonder how they would have dealt with things during the war years, although there would have been very little food waste then it was certainly illegal to waste food and I can remember reading in one of my books about a women being prosecuted for feeding the birds in her garden. People had a different attitude to everything then but I can remember my cooking teacher weighing my potato peelings and telling me with tears in her eye that she would have been so grateful for those during the war when she was starving…Ive never forgotten it and I remember her words every time I peel anything now very very thinly…if at all!

  5. Great that you uphold your values! I could have gone with you either way about freeganism, it would be good to see food used for the purpose it was meant to be for and not wasted. I was wondering if I could make some patchwork curtains from old fabric, charity shops, car boot sales etc must have lots they can’t sell as clothes because of damage etc. I reckon they would look pretty nice and funky too!

  6. You certainly have made us all think. I agree it’s outrageous that food is binned if past a certain date. How often have you sniffed something a day or two past the date on the packet and thought “I’ll risk it”? I think this subject needs to be examined far more and the issue addressed

  7. I’m with you ‘Daisy’s Grandma’ though perhaps as I’m also a granny we are ‘of a certain age’! I get so cross at food wasted because it is past it’s sell by date. Some common sense is needed – if it looks OK and it smells OK then taste it, it probably is OK. In the past I have made good use of green trimmings from the market in Newbury and bread and cakes from our local bakery to supplement the diet of our chickens and goats so indirectly getting free milk and eggs!
    Since I am a bit of a coward and not keen on breaking the law I wouldn’t try Freeganism.

  8. Oooh thanks for addressing this off the back of my question 🙂 I just think it’s such an interesting issue. When I worked at the Spar we hardly ever/never threw anything out: at the end of the day we were allowed to give away any leftover pasties that had been heating up in the pie oven all day (we worked basically in a student triangle so there were always plenty of takers!) and members of staff were allowed to take away anything that would go off the next day for free 🙂 So waste was really minimized and I can’t believe that other supermarkets throw perfectly good food out just for silly reasons like damaged packaging 😦

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