Ok, so it sounds super gross. Dumpster diving is not anything groundbreaking, but I never truly comprehended how much perfectly good food grocery stores throw away. I almost feel like I am doing a social service by rescuing some of this stuff.
It all started early one morning about a month ago when DH and I went to a local grocery store and saw them clearing out the entire dairy and deli section. We asked what was going on, and a store employee said that there had been a power outage sometime after the store closed at 11pm, so they had to throw everything away as a precaution. The store itself was still something like 65 degrees because they keep the air on so cold. Seeing the carts upon carts of greek yogurt, milk, etc., we asked if we could have any of it. The employee said no, that even the employees were not allowed to take any for liability reasons. We said ok, checked out with our regular purchase, and then pulled our car around back to the dumpster to wait. Bags and bags kept getting put out that day. Everything was still cold, and frozen items were still frozen. DH and a few friends made about 10 runs. We filled up the fridges and deep freezers of about 6 families, plus one of our friends took around a truckload to needy families she knew through church. Items included gourmet cheeses, the expensive deli meats, frozen chicken breasts, whipped cream, bagels, cream cheese, yogurt, hummus, breakfast sausage, etc. It was insanity, and we didn't even make a dent in what they threw out. I would say all of us combined got maybe 0.05% of the total waste.
We live in a fairly upscale area, so no one else seems to dumpster dives around here. We have three grocery stores a few miles from our house. This past week, the only item we had to buy from the grocery store was a gallon of milk. We have gotten organic apples, eggplant, cucumber, onions, potatoes, packaged salad, grapes, blackberries, french bread, donuts, cakes, fruit trays, ground beef, pork picnic roast, juice, jarred peppers, canned goods, etc. The perishables have either that day's expiration date or don't even expire for another day or two. Lots of nonperishables are thrown out because of torn labels or other minor aesthetic damage. We even found some chocolate bars that seem like they were thrown out because they were slightly crooked. The produce has minor dings and bruised spots, but is by no means damaged. About 1 in 4 of the grapes had to be tossed because I like my grapes super crispy, but it's not so sad to throw out food when it was in the garbage to begin with. Nothing is dirty or sticky on the outside.
I really have no ethical problem with dumpster diving, but I can understand how skeevy it sounds, and I was a bit nervous about the raw meats, but DH swore that they were still completely cold when he got them. I will be okay with picking up more of it once winter rolls around. DH drives past the dumpster of the closest store about three times a day, and grabs things that have been put out within an hour or two prior. He even bikes there with a backpack at nighttime as part of his exercise regimen and loads up again. I can't tell most of my friends or family, because I know they would be grossed out and would probably never eat at our house again. It feels kind of weird doing this when our income is in the 25% tax bracket, but I don't know how I will ever be able to go back to buying groceries normally again. The amount of waste is just painful to witness.
Anyways, I don't know if this has surpassed mustachianism and entered the realms of pure cheapness or hobo-living, but I thought this might be the one place that this might have a chance of being appreciated.