I’ve embarked on an experiment – I’m trying to start eating at least one meal a day made with food that comes from a dumpster. Tonight I paid a visit to Food Emporium on 6th Avenue, and made the most obscene haul of food imaginable – pictured above. Seriously, I got pounds of prepared produce – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, three colors of bell peppers, french cut green beans, and some fruit – barely scratching the surface of what was on the street.
People go hungry because corporate food distributors decide to throw food away when it becomes unmarketable, not when it becomes inedible. In the mean time, tons of food goes to the landfill, and people starve.
Whenever you pay for produce from a grocery store you also pay for this kind of extravagance and arrogant waste. The need to throw away food means that grocers build in a waste-premium to the food they sell – they need to make enough money on the produce they do sell to be able to throw away the remainders towards the end of its shelf life.
My experience finding food on the side of the road represents the basic problems with entrusting sustenance to corporate power. From start to finish, the profit motive drives choices in production and distribution, rather than the desire to adequately feed humanity. I know its a cliche but I don’t think you can say it enough: globally, enough food is produced to feed everyone who goes hungry; they continue to starve because of an inability to pay for food, not a lack of food.
BTW: I’ve had three dumpstered meals in the last three days, and I’ve been eating better than I have in a while. I end up eating lots of fresh produce prepared in interesting ways. There’s also a particular kind of joy in making culinary decisions based on what you find in a bag on the side of the road.