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.
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.
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!