Author Topic: Dumpster Diving for Groceries  (Read 40671 times)

GuitarStv

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #50 on: May 06, 2016, 09:29:34 AM »
Does anyone know where this falls legally? Maybe trespassing at the worst? I do not find it gross. We have eaten lots of groceries that were slated to be fed to pigs (no shit, it was food bank overflow / outdated). Mostly produce, I'd be careful with the lunchmeat and dairy.


I haven't managed to get through all the posts yet but the law generally stipulates 'once property has been thrown out it's considered to be public domain'.

Really?  Does that mean that I can legally root through your garbage at the curb to find credit card receipts and bank statements?  I'd somehow figured that behaviour would be illegal.

CmFtns

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #51 on: May 06, 2016, 09:39:05 AM »
Does anyone know where this falls legally? Maybe trespassing at the worst? I do not find it gross. We have eaten lots of groceries that were slated to be fed to pigs (no shit, it was food bank overflow / outdated). Mostly produce, I'd be careful with the lunchmeat and dairy.


I haven't managed to get through all the posts yet but the law generally stipulates 'once property has been thrown out it's considered to be public domain'.

Really?  Does that mean that I can legally root through your garbage at the curb to find credit card receipts and bank statements?  I'd somehow figured that behaviour would be illegal.

That's what shredders are for... I think that's the risk you take throwing out your personal information... Rooting through garbage and happening to see personal information isn't illegal but using that personal information to steal someone's identity is
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elaine amj

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #52 on: May 06, 2016, 09:58:03 AM »
Hmmm...I don't quite know if I can do this for food yet - but then again, a bunch of years ago, i couldn't imagine wearing thrift store clothes and now about 75% of my wardrobe comes from the thrift store.

I LOVE all the stuff you've gotten and I would totally eat at your house.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2016, 10:36:28 AM by elaine amj »

KisKis

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #53 on: May 06, 2016, 10:10:23 AM »
Does anyone know where this falls legally? Maybe trespassing at the worst? I do not find it gross. We have eaten lots of groceries that were slated to be fed to pigs (no shit, it was food bank overflow / outdated). Mostly produce, I'd be careful with the lunchmeat and dairy.


I haven't managed to get through all the posts yet but the law generally stipulates 'once property has been thrown out it's considered to be public domain'.

Really?  Does that mean that I can legally root through your garbage at the curb to find credit card receipts and bank statements?  I'd somehow figured that behaviour would be illegal.

Just to echo comfyfutons, identity theft is illegal, but going through trash is not (check your state's laws and local ordinances).  If you are throwing your papers in the recycling container, there are people sorting through it anyways, so don't think your stuff goes unseen.  In my city, all that stuff is hand sorted on a conveyor belt.  Plenty of opportunity for a temp worker to grab something, if it hasn't been shredded.

Like I said, you can always call your local police and ask.  I did not expect ours to be so accommodating.  It was a pleasant surprise.  Logic applies.  Don't impede the operation of the store, and don't make a mess.  If store employees tell you to leave, be respectful and go (and return later).  The police said that the store would have to put a lock on the dumpster if they really wanted to stop us, but there is no need to stand there and argue with the employees.

As a side note, we did also make friends with a worker at another grocery store, and got a load of Hawaiian bread last week.  Typically we try to stay low carb, but that went out the window for a few days.





KisKis

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #54 on: May 06, 2016, 10:20:54 AM »
Hmmm...I don't quite now if I can do this for food yet - but then again, a bunch of years ago, i couldn't imagine wearing thrift store clothes and now about 75% of my wardrobe comes from the thrift store.

I LOVE all the stuff you've gotten and I would totally eat at your house.

You're sweet!  I promise we never feed any unsuspecting guests our dumpster food.  We are upfront about it with everyone close enough to invite to dinner.  It's a good conversational topic.  Most of them are on our list for sharing of surplus high quality items. 

The funny thing is that some second-hand stores still give me a little bit of the heebie jeebies, but there is one in town that I love and have gotten great suits, pants, and dresses from.

There is some stuff that DH picks out of the dump that I wrinkle my nose at.  He's the kind of person that will cut off a moldy end of cheese and eat the rest with no problem.  I imagine that there are spores hiding in every corner.  The good thing about free dumpster food is that there is no guilt about returning it to the trash.  Other than some of the produce, which I always wash and peel, everything else is in their original prepackaged containers.  Most of the time, the packaged containers are in yet another tied trash bag, so it's as clean as what is on the shelves, though if you're talking cakes, sometimes the icing is a little mushed to the top. 

JoRocka

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #55 on: May 06, 2016, 12:15:17 PM »
Super resourceful.

But a giant nope from me.

I work a job- to pay for things I like partly b/c I like it- and partly for convenience.

I'm willing to pay for the convenience of purchasing my food not hunting for it.

But I'm crazy jealous at the ultra low grocery bill.

MilesTeg

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #56 on: May 06, 2016, 02:44:38 PM »
Seems to fall in the category of "you'll be fine almost all the time, but holy hell are the consequences of it not being fine just not worth it unless you have financial hardships".

That said, most stores/consumers throw out perfectly fine food all the time, but are you really tempting fate with things like sushi?

I've had food poisoning once, and it was from freshly made sushi (not even sashimi).


Cassie

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #57 on: May 06, 2016, 03:12:57 PM »
People sometimes die from food poisoning and if you have had it once you won't want to repeat the experience. I am surprised people will eat at your house.

YogiKitti

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #58 on: May 06, 2016, 03:33:29 PM »
Wow, that is huge savings!

I would love to dumpster dive, but it is illegal where I live. I hope one day I will be able to!

dycker1978

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #59 on: May 06, 2016, 04:05:10 PM »

geekinprogress

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #60 on: May 06, 2016, 04:12:54 PM »
I think this applies here...

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/24/frugal-vs-cheap/

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dilinger

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #61 on: May 07, 2016, 11:35:52 AM »
People sometimes die from food poisoning and if you have had it once you won't want to repeat the experience. I am surprised people will eat at your house.

Typical reaction of someone who's never done it.  I've had food poisoning multiple times - never from dumpster diving.  It's always been from eating out, or from questionable leftovers when I was a college student cooking for myself the first time.  It's easy to tell when food is spoiled, and high-end stores throw away things well before they're even close to spoiling.  Also, when your food is free and considered garbage, it's much easier (psychologically) to throw away something that's been sitting in your fridge for 2 weeks compared to some fancy expensive food item that you paid $30 for.

As far as legality, at least in the US it's trespassing, and the majority of people will actively try to ignore you.  Store employees will either ask you to leave, or tell you when the toss away the good stuff.  It's always sad when you come across 30 gallons of melted ice cream, but when they tip you off and you can get there right when it's thrown away and still frozen - you're suddenly the most popular person in your circle of friends.

If you're clearly diving food food, cops don't care.  Most of the time, they just drive right by.  The one time they did stop me, it was after some guys ran by who were apparently in a bar fight.  After checking our ID, we told them the direction they ran in and they were on their way.  However, I do have a friend that was arrested for dumpster diving at an REI.  The REI shared a parking lot with a DMV.  The cops arrested him, thinking that he was diving for IDs.  His charges were thrown away when he went to court, but it still didn't sound fun.  So be aware of the context of your diving.  And don't give the store a reason to lock their dumpster or call the cops (ie, don't make a bunch of noise, and leave the dumpster cleaner than you found it).

Diving with a bike trailer is fun and good exercise.  If you're going to a distributor, renting a Zipcar pickup truck is the absolute best way to do it.  It's quick and easy to load (back the truck up to the dumpster and toss bags into the back of the truck), and cleaning the back is a cinch.

I have had to tell people this: avoid compactors at all costs.  I don't care if something delicious looking is sitting right on top.  It's dangerous and not worth your life.

One of the biggest things I miss about pre-kid lifestyle is the dumpster diving.  I just can't stay awake that late any more.  I think people here who are saying "nope, not for me, too cheap" are missing how much fun it is.  Just like riding a bike vs driving - it's not just the monetary savings.  It's a ton of fun, and an adventure!
« Last Edit: May 07, 2016, 11:39:30 AM by dilinger »

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #62 on: May 07, 2016, 12:01:55 PM »
The more I read about dumpster diving, the more I want to try it out. Saves money, saves food from being wasted, and would allow me to eat more splurge-y food (like bell peppers) that are expensive and rarely bought. I'm nervous to go by myself, but I know there are groups in my city that will go together and introduce new people to the basic rules.

futurehermit

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #63 on: May 07, 2016, 03:50:54 PM »
The night I stopped dumpster diving:

When in college I would routinely dumpster dive with a buddy.  We found out that Goodwill would occasionally purge items that did not sell into an unlocked dumpster.

This particular dumpster was behind a gate, surrounded on the other three sides (excluding side with gate) by a cinder block wall.

One dark night my buddy and I pull up to the enclosure.  I hop out and open the gate.  I start to walk into the enclosure and from the shadows hear in a quiet, steady voice: "Come on in, boy."

I freeze, no knowing what to do, thinking that maybe I have hallucinated this.

In the second that I freeze, I hear clearly, repeated, "Come on in, boy."  I am frozen as a figure emerges from the shadows and approaches me.  Indigent, and likely homeless. Middle-aged, scruffy beard, bandana around head, clothes that looked as though he lived outdoors in them, casted from a low-budget horror movie.

"They got shoes.  I hid when you pulled up cause I thought you were the po-lice.  Come on in."

My buddy and I dove back into his car, afraid to turn our backs as we ran.

KisKis

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #64 on: May 08, 2016, 12:00:19 PM »
In the second that I freeze, I hear clearly, repeated, "Come on in, boy."  I am frozen as a figure emerges from the shadows and approaches me.  Indigent, and likely homeless. Middle-aged, scruffy beard, bandana around head, clothes that looked as though he lived outdoors in them, casted from a low-budget horror movie.

"They got shoes.  I hid when you pulled up cause I thought you were the po-lice.  Come on in."

My buddy and I dove back into his car, afraid to turn our backs as we ran.

Great story, haha.  Loving your writing style.  DH was inside the dumpster one night when a couple goth teens rolled up and started using the darkened dumpster location as their makeout spot.  I wish I had saved our text conversation documenting his steady stream of internal dialogue until the moment he decided to say, "Hey guys, I don't want to scare you, but there's a dude in this dumpster about to come out."  They turned tail and fled, to live out their lives in traumatized fear of dumpsters.

drachma

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #65 on: May 10, 2016, 08:25:02 AM »
basically ate for free on a trip out west due to this. figured out the store regularly tossed stuff at 6pm, we show up at 6:30 and get piles of fresh veg, fancy meats, fruits, you name it. zero food poisoning. of course we washed stuff and cooked it first.

some guy came to our campsite and we explained why we had a gigantic box of zucchini, and offered him some. he got a funny look momentarily, but his response was the smoothest way I've been rejected so far - "No, thanks. I mean, keep it. You earned it."

dilinger

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #66 on: May 10, 2016, 10:08:38 PM »
When we lived in an apt building, we kept offering our neighbors across the hall food.  We'd end up with 100 bell peppers, for example, and we'd offer them a bunch.  They *always* turned us down.

Then one time we were at a store that shared a dumpster w/ a CVS or Rite-Aid.  It was just after halloween.  We found tons of candy, but we're vegetarian and eat pretty healthy, so we passed up most of it.  We did grab a small amount of stuff that we like, and some stuff that we just thought was funny (like wax lips).

We get home, let our neighbors know we have a huge haul, offer them fruits & veggies.. get turned down.  Then they see the wax lips and their eye light up. 

"Whoa, you got those for free?  Someone threw those out?  How could someone throw these out??"

"Yeah.  You want 'em?"

"Wait, really?  OMG yes!"

That was the day that I realized they weren't turning us down because they were sketched out by the dumpster thing ; they just ate the horrible junk food that we'd leave behind.

KisKis

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #67 on: May 11, 2016, 06:36:30 AM »
basically ate for free on a trip out west due to this.

Nice!!  As I said, DH is bordering on psychosis with his dumpster diving (not really, but he genuinely enjoys it), so whenever we visit out-of-town friends or family, DH always has to ask where the closest grocery store is, usually convinces someone to go with him, and they end up disappearing for two hours checking every general store and grocery in town.  It's his version of sightseeing.   

That was the day that I realized they weren't turning us down because they were sketched out by the dumpster thing ; they just ate the horrible junk food that we'd leave behind.

Haha, yes, I definitely know those types.  DH regularly leaves giant hauls of candy, and it's all great packaged stuff.  M&Ms, starbursts, skittles, chocolate bars, etc.   I have him trained to never overlook Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, but other than that, better to not bring it home.   

Rezdent

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #68 on: May 11, 2016, 08:49:55 AM »
basically ate for free on a trip out west due to this.

Nice!!  As I said, DH is bordering on psychosis with his dumpster diving (not really, but he genuinely enjoys it), so whenever we visit out-of-town friends or family, DH always has to ask where the closest grocery store is, usually convinces someone to go with him, and they end up disappearing for two hours checking every general store and grocery in town.  It's his version of sightseeing.   

That was the day that I realized they weren't turning us down because they were sketched out by the dumpster thing ; they just ate the horrible junk food that we'd leave behind.

Haha, yes, I definitely know those types.  DH regularly leaves giant hauls of candy, and it's all great packaged stuff.  M&Ms, starbursts, skittles, chocolate bars, etc.   I have him trained to never overlook Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, but other than that, better to not bring it home.   
I am out of the game now, due to a rural location and new rules in the nearby city, but you can always leverage things you dont want.

I suggest you use these things to build a network.  It takes some time to build these, but so worth it.

Not exactly diving, but we had a friend who used to hook us up with unsold junk food.  Things like fried pies, bags of miniature donuts, stuff like that.
We don't eat them, but we've got another friend who runs a vegetable stand and his huge family really loved this stuff.

So we traded unsold junk food for unsold veggies - and then gave some veggies to junk food source.  Had another friend who's mom made tamales...
At one point, we had about ten folks in our little circle.  Great fun.


dude

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #69 on: May 11, 2016, 10:33:53 AM »
Wow -- would never do it myself, but have no problem with the concept.  Wasting food is downright sinful.  Plenty of totally fine food that is cosmetically not sellable to most consumers is tossed into the trash every day. I'm glad someone is making good use of it rather than it going to waste.

MoneyCat

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #70 on: May 11, 2016, 11:04:41 AM »
For the person who started this thread: Just wanted to say that I was a huge fan of your episode of "Extreme Cheapskates" when it was on Netflix. When you fed the dumpster food to your unknowing friends, their reaction was comedy gold. That episode made me feel so much better about myself.

This was that person from "Extreme Cheapskates", right?
Mod Note: Forum Rule #1
« Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 12:43:21 PM by swick »

Kaybee

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #71 on: May 13, 2016, 09:19:08 PM »
This is awesome but I've yet to find unlocked dumpsters in my area.  It might be because of the homeless population around here though... I imagine MegaCorps would say they don't want their dumpsters to be rifled through in case of injury/various other liabilty concerns.  I wonder if the dumpsters are secured the same way in areas where they *don't* expect dumpster diving??
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FreeAsADragon

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #72 on: May 14, 2016, 01:10:10 AM »
Saving perfectly good stuff from being trashed while cutting your grocery bill and eating gourmet food? While in the 25% bracket? Heck yeah, that's badass! You've inspired me to check the local laws on this.

Thanks for your post and the detailed update. May the hauls be plentiful and delicious.

SaveSpendGiveALittle

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #73 on: November 06, 2016, 04:58:24 PM »
I decided to give this a try this week. Within the 1st hour, I scored 18 lbs of rice, 3 lbs of gluten free flour and about 50 boxes of various Kind & Nature Valley "granola bars" and OREO cookies.

It was too easy and I just grabbed the items right off the top of the dumpster. None of the items were even expired, really makes you shake your head at how much is thrown away.

Cassie

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #74 on: November 06, 2016, 05:34:42 PM »
In some cities grocery stores give shelters food that is not expired that they would normally throw out. It is too bad they all don't do this as since they cook in such large quantities that they would use the food before it spoils.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #75 on: November 07, 2016, 01:10:00 AM »
In some cities grocery stores give shelters food that is not expired that they would normally throw out. It is too bad they all don't do this as since they cook in such large quantities that they would use the food before it spoils.

This is now mandatory in France.

Anje

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #76 on: November 07, 2016, 06:26:25 AM »
Does anyone know where this falls legally? Maybe trespassing at the worst? I do not find it gross. We have eaten lots of groceries that were slated to be fed to pigs (no shit, it was food bank overflow / outdated). Mostly produce, I'd be careful with the lunchmeat and dairy.


I haven't managed to get through all the posts yet but the law generally stipulates 'once property has been thrown out it's considered to be public domain'.

Really?  Does that mean that I can legally root through your garbage at the curb to find credit card receipts and bank statements?  I'd somehow figured that behaviour would be illegal.
This logic is why going through trash is illegal in many countries (like mine). Where I live your trash belongs to the owner of the trash can (you, in most cases of homes) until it's picked up by a recycling company. After that they take over ownership. So taking trash is, by letter of law, theft. So far no-one has been prosecuted, though. I mean: who really cares if you take food/clothes/whatnot from the trash of a shop? (as long as you don't make a mess)

I actually recently learnt that my local grozery store put a padlock on their dumpster not to stop people taking things out but to prevent people pulling over their car and tossing furniture and stuff into the dumpster (yea, people will do that, it seems..)

lhamo

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #77 on: November 07, 2016, 08:56:07 AM »
Our food bank does what it calls "grocery rescue"  -- collecting close-to-expiry date food from some of the grocery stores around.   I plan to volunteer for a shift once I feel comfortable driving again.  Based on what i see while on the food line, I know that much of the food comes from the local Fred Meyer (which makes sense -- it is 1/2 a block from the food bank).  They also collect from the closest Trader Joes. 
Wherever you go, there you are

KelStache

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #78 on: November 07, 2016, 04:00:10 PM »
I'm glad this thread has been revived!

My first impression was that dumpster diving was "cheap" and gross, but I get SO MUCH fresh healthy food when I go (which admittedly isn't very often). I'm vegan, so no concerns about animal products going bad; I mostly get produce from a local produce shop, and they throw out tons of great stuff as new shipments come in.

I wouldn't recommend this just to save a few bucks, but I find it fun and rewarding to save perfectly good food from the landfill. I do a soak with vinegar then wash the fruit/veg with dr bronners soap just to be safe. Often I'll get a huge bag of apples or oranges with just one fruit that has gone bad. I usually get enough tomatoes and peppers to make a huge batch of sauce or soup, and I like drying the fruit in my dehydrator for snacks :)

Unique User

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #79 on: December 06, 2016, 06:38:10 PM »
I'd be fine with it and think you are doing our landfills a service.  I've looked, but have never seen any dumpsters other than compactors.  Also two of our three chains donate to the food banks (yay!) and the third marks everything close to expiration as well as ugly/bruised produce down by 50%, which is our major source of food.  Since we don't have a Costco or Aldi's nearby, it's the way I keep our grocery budget in check.  My teen is embarrassed enough that the majority of the food in our house is marked down, she'd probably die if we had dumpster food. 

TightFistedScot

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #80 on: December 07, 2016, 05:20:08 AM »
Congratulations! You are definitely badass.

My wife and I make more than pretty much all of the people that we hang out with. It's interesting that those who I feel like could benefit the most from dumpstering won't go and do it on their own. At least they will let us give them food we've found.

We only tell people that are cool enough that they will still eat at our house. So far most people think it's cool but won't go on their own.

Legality depends on the city. In my town, it's legal. A cop car drove right past my wife while she was diving the other night and didn't even stop. :)

We've been getting about 80% of our groceries from dumpsters for about two years or so. Our rule of thumb is, if it doesn't smell bad, it isn't going to hurt you. So far so good!

Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. is usually good for a week to a month after the "expiration" date. (Usually it is actually a sell-by date which means it is supposed to be good for a week after the date anyway.)

If meat doesn't smell bad, you're fine. We generally cook it a little more thoroughly then we would if we had bought it fresh, but it doesn't freak me out like it used to. My life has way more bacon in it than if we didn't dumpster dive. :D

Compactors are the devil.

Thanks for the response!  This makes me feel a lot better.  I am looking forward to spending maybe $500 total on groceries for the next two years. :)  We've already had the discussion with our kids that it's probably not a good idea to tell people at school that we eat dumpster food.  Haha.

Yeah I really think the only potential negative harm is the social stigma - so it's good you told your kids not to out themselves. I have never personally done dumpster diving, but I have had lots of activist friends over the years who do it. I have mad respect for people who dumpster dive. Food waste in developed nations is what should be a crime!!!

The only reason I haven't done it myself is because of the social stigma, really.

piethief

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #81 on: December 09, 2016, 06:41:26 PM »
I say kudos on this.

It reminds me of a kind of fond memory of my very early career out of college...  Approx ~2000-2001.  I worked for a small software company making entertainment software.  One of the testers lived in an apartment complex behind a grocery store or a convenience store, something like that.  He would, about once a month or so, come into the studio with several grocery bags full of what we lovingly nicknamed "Dumpster Meat".

It's not really as gross as it sounds.  Imagine "slim jims" and "beef jerky" type meat snacks, the kind that come single-serving vacuum wrapped, with probably tons of preservatives and chemicals.  But to a newly graduated person in their early career making not a lot of money, it was awesome.  :)

HAPPYINAZ

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #82 on: December 09, 2016, 06:58:38 PM »
I can't stand the food waste either.  Thanks for doing what you can to reduce such ridiculous waste.  We used to harvest dumpster food and give it to homeless people we knew. If you know where homeless people gather periodically, you can leave food there for them. 

I recently wrote to my senator asking him to support a bill that will help reduce waste by changing labelling of food in regard to "sell by" vs "best before" vs expiration dates.  So many people I know throw food away if it is past the "best by" date.  People seem to confuse expiration dates and best by dates.  It's crazy and drives me nuts.  We have a program at church where we give food to homeless teens and we had some people who wanted to throw out donated food because it was past a best by date.....food is still safe and edible then! 

anyway, here is a little info about the bill I was referring too.  Maybe you all want to write your senators about this too.

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Food Date Labeling Act of 2016 (S. 2947). I appreciate you taking the time to share your views with me.
     This legislation was introduced in the Senate on May 18, 2016, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  Among other things, this bill proposes to establish new rules and regulations for food labeling and sell-by dates.  Please be assured that I will keep your specific views in mind if this legislation comes to the Senate floor for a vote.
     Thank you once again for taking the time to contact me regarding this subject.  Please do not hesitate to do so in the future on this or any other issue of concern.



MrSal

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #83 on: December 11, 2016, 08:51:56 PM »
Id love to try this however havent had the guts to try it out...

not because i am afraid of social stigma but more so because i dont know how the store would deal with it if found out.

I live like 300 yards away, if that, from a major regional food chain store... Usuually they mark down items when close to expiration but I have seen them gather food on cars after expiration. They wouldnt allow me to buy it. I assume it went to trash. The store is open 24/7 ...

I need to gather some guts and try it! If it worked im sure i would do it more often. This is a small town however (5000-7500 people) so not sure how this wuld impact things...

HAPPYINAZ

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #84 on: December 11, 2016, 09:13:24 PM »
another option is to also frequent food banks.  We just received several boxes of amazing fresh produce that the food bank was going to throw out because there was too much!  The "best by" date on the bags of spinach and salads was today!  There was an unopened box with six large bags of peeled garlic cloves!  Dozens of vine ripened tomatoes, red peppers, parsnips, parsley, jalapenos, lemons, and a giant box of mushrooms.  We took a bunch, made a great soup for dinner and will share with friends. 

Food banks can't use all the food they receive if it's fresh produce, so you might just get to know the people at your local food bank and find out if they are throwing out fresh produce.  This stuff we received was in perfect condition, it was unbelievable that it would have been thrown away!

I posted pics on my FB page....I never have good luck posting pics here

https://www.facebook.com/amanda.moors.9/posts/10209382347209346?pnref=story

Mtngrl

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #85 on: December 12, 2016, 12:00:41 PM »
HappyinAZ -- I once volunteered at a food bank and often brought home produce and dairy products (and less often, dry goods)  in excess of what they could use for the clientelle. A typical scenario would be that a farmer would donate a truck load of squash or potatoes or melons. We would urge anyone who came in to take as much as they wanted -- but alas, too many of our clientelle were small families, singles, people who didn't like vegetables, or didn't know how to cook them. By the third day, the volunteers would take home whatever we could. I once scored several large bags of wheat germ because our clients turned up their noses at it (probably didn't know what to do with it) and it was taking up valuable shelf space.

Baby food was the only non-perishable thing we were required by law to ditch once it reached the expiration date. I often took home jars of meat or veggie baby food to feed to my dogs. Better than it going to the Dumpster.

I really liked that volunteer job. We've moved to a different county, but it makes me think i should look into volunteering here. I met some wonderful people who were regular clients of the pantry -- almost all of them working families or seniors living on small Social Security checks.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #86 on: December 12, 2016, 12:12:20 PM »
another option is to also frequent food banks.  We just received several boxes of amazing fresh produce that the food bank was going to throw out because there was too much!  The "best by" date on the bags of spinach and salads was today!  There was an unopened box with six large bags of peeled garlic cloves!  Dozens of vine ripened tomatoes, red peppers, parsnips, parsley, jalapenos, lemons, and a giant box of mushrooms.  We took a bunch, made a great soup for dinner and will share with friends. 

Food banks can't use all the food they receive if it's fresh produce, so you might just get to know the people at your local food bank and find out if they are throwing out fresh produce.  This stuff we received was in perfect condition, it was unbelievable that it would have been thrown away!

I posted pics on my FB page....I never have good luck posting pics here

https://www.facebook.com/amanda.moors.9/posts/10209382347209346?pnref=story

That's a great haul!

I went to a MMMeetup on Saturday that happened to be next to a freegan meetup. They had spread food across four tables for anyone to take. Most of it was candy and baked goods. I took a ton of unhealthy food, and thus commenced my first encounter with dumpster diving by association. Maybe one day I will be brave enough to join a freegan group on their hunt.

lostinwoods

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #87 on: December 24, 2016, 06:47:36 PM »
I've worked grocery retail for a while, here's just some reasons I personally wouldn't do it based on my experience...

-A significant percentage of what gets thrown out is from recalls.  Typically 1-2 times weekly we receive a recall for a product that may possibly be contaminated with e-coli, salmonella, or may be infested with bacteria from rodent droppings or with insects.  This even includes things like nuts, cookies, produce and other items on the shelf you'd never expect to contaminated, and wouldn't be able to tell by looking at.  Most of these recalls are not public knowledge, and many product quality issues are communicated between stores.  They are just pulled from shelves and thrown in the dumpster.

-Customer returns go right to the dumpster.  These are items that have left the store for any amount of time and could have been held at any temperature or handled/contaminated in a variety of manners. 

-Many times things are thrown out because they were out of temp for too long.  Just this summer we received an entire pallet of meat that came in on the truck at an absurdly high temp, the truck must've not had their reefer on.  Probably was close to 24 hours at 80+ degrees in the back of a truck that was loaded at the warehouse the day before.  It was cold when thrown out, as it's a small store so we kept it in the meat cooler until we could record what was lost.  Anyone coming across that in the dumpster and thinking it was kept refrigerated would be in trouble.  Every few months we end up getting a dairy pallet that sat out all night that we have to toss also, which again may be moved and kept somewhere refrigerated until someone counts/records it, unbeknownst to any dumpster divers.

-Razorblades: Most shelf stockers go through a blade on their box cutters every couple of weeks.  These usually get tossed right into the dumpster to avoid injury.  Broken glass and bottles are also thrown directly into the dumpster per our safety policy. 

-The inside of the dumpster is almost certainly teeming with bacteria from years' worth of rancid meat and produce being flung into it, which will find it's way all over the packaging of most of the food items you're taking, as well as your body.

-The unexpected: I personally saw someone throw his used syringe into our dumpster every night when I worked the overnight shift.  That is something I would never want to take a chance on encountering.
 
It's great you've been able to do it without issue so far, I just personally wouldn't consider it worth the risk.  Sticking to compost dumpsters at the stores that have them would be a somewhat safer option.  I agree that it's disgusting how much gets thrown out.  Every year the store I'm currently at (mid-range busy) throws out about 25,000 individual eggs and over 1000 gallons of milk, along with piles and piles of other items.  Busier stores can throw out 10 times that amount, but usually due to labor constraints any efforts to do anything with the food other than the quick fix of simply tossing it is usually not considered.

lhamo

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #88 on: December 24, 2016, 07:10:04 PM »
lostinwoods,

Can you encourage the management at your local store to reach out to your local food banks and/or an organization like Second Harvest to see if there is a way to donate that excess food rather than dumping it?  Lots of foodbanks and the organizations that support them have grocery salvage operations.  At the one I volunteer at, probably 80-90% of the food comes from grocery salvage.
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nancy33

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #89 on: December 24, 2016, 07:24:42 PM »
Inspired by this thread and the Just Eat It documentary, went to look at the dumpsters this afternoon behind the closest grocery store and there were huge plastic bags full of store made bread? Grabbed one, very heavy, and my 4 hens will have food for a week or more! Also one dumpster was full of vegetables. Grabbed some lettuce for the guinea pigs and there was a huge amount of garlic that was starting to sprout, so took a bit of that and brought it home and planted it. Also a 12 pack of assorted muffins the chickens are enjoying as well. I'm not ready to eat anything from the dumpster though. Maybe soon?
A couple of weeks ago when we first watched the documentary my son and I toured those same dumpsters and happened upon an employee tossing out a huge number of rotisserie chickens, literally right after we watched the documentary. It is appalling!

nancy33

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #90 on: December 24, 2016, 07:25:32 PM »
I'm wondering what the dumpster diving will be like the day after Christmas

lhamo

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #91 on: December 24, 2016, 09:12:36 PM »
nancy33, I think you would really enjoy the book Farm City by Novella Carpenter.  It is a memoir about her experience starting and urban homestead in Oakland. Dumpster diving was a major thing for her, because she was raising a pig that ate a ton, in addition to other animals, on a very limited income.  She would hit the asian markets for fish guts and high end bakeries and restaurants in Berkeley for all kinds of other stuff. Anyway, a really fun book that I think any urban farmer is likely to enjoy.

Good luck with your after Christmas treasure hunt for the animals!
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nancy33

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #92 on: December 24, 2016, 09:15:31 PM »
going to look for the Farm City book Thank you!

dilinger

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #93 on: December 25, 2016, 02:06:04 AM »
+1 for Farm City; it was a fun read.

lostinwoods

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #94 on: December 25, 2016, 10:05:31 AM »
lostinwoods,

Can you encourage the management at your local store to reach out to your local food banks and/or an organization like Second Harvest to see if there is a way to donate that excess food rather than dumping it?  Lots of foodbanks and the organizations that support them have grocery salvage operations.  At the one I volunteer at, probably 80-90% of the food comes from grocery salvage.

I've worked for 2 companies, roughly 11 stores... I'll share my experience

The first company was an 18 store family-owned supermarket and deathly afraid of lawsuits.  They claimed someone could get sick off the donated food and sue the company for a ton of money.  Nothing was donated.

The company I work for currently (a massive organic/"green" market you may have heard of) does have food banks and companies that we donate to.  I would still say that only about 5% of the salvageable food actually makes its way out the door. 

The problem is it's a store by store effort and companies don't have specific policies in place.  Our company throws out enough that we could feed entire countries, but donating it is costly and is a hassle for employees that are already struggling to get the bare minimum done.  The reason we donate is really only for the tax write-off, which requires an employee costing out the loss and recording it, which takes time (money).  Then it takes up valuable space in backrooms, coolers and freezers that is usually much needed to store product.  All of that combined with the high-turnover rate and "don't give an f" attitude of many retail employees leads to a system that doesn't actually work.  Those in need only end up getting scraps of what is actually tossed everyday.

Maybe it's because of Christmas (or the eggnog), but this thread had inspired me to reach out to local food banks and work with them to create a better system.  If it was pitched right, with emphasis on the tax write-off and public relations/media coverage for the store, combined with a useable execution strategy that the stores could work with, I think a huge dent could be made in the waste.

I still want to emphasize how risky dumpster diving is at stores.  I went back through my recall-notice emails last night and estimated that we throw out potentially HIGHLY contaminated food, that looks perfectly fine to eat, roughly 25 times a year(almost every other week).  Other recalls like infestation and rancidity take place close to weekly, not to mention the fact that dumpsters are literally a dumping ground for box cutter blades, broken glass, and every other waste meant to be tossed far away from humans.  I am not a germaphobe or anything like that, but risking health and safety to save a few bucks seems more like gambling than frugality.





« Last Edit: December 25, 2016, 10:13:42 AM by lostinwoods »

lhamo

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #95 on: December 25, 2016, 11:15:32 AM »
lostinwoods,

Can you encourage the management at your local store to reach out to your local food banks and/or an organization like Second Harvest to see if there is a way to donate that excess food rather than dumping it?  Lots of foodbanks and the organizations that support them have grocery salvage operations.  At the one I volunteer at, probably 80-90% of the food comes from grocery salvage.
Maybe it's because of Christmas (or the eggnog), but this thread had inspired me to reach out to local food banks and work with them to create a better system.  If it was pitched right, with emphasis on the tax write-off and public relations/media coverage for the store, combined with a useable execution strategy that the stores could work with, I think a huge dent could be made in the waste.

Thanks for the additional background.

It would be AWESOME if you could work as an intermediary between the food banks and the stores -- helping each understand both the opportunities and the challenges from the other's perspective might lead to some creative options that would be beneficial for both.   If it would be helpful, I can look into how our food bank manages the grocery salvage portion of their operation. 
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dilinger

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #96 on: December 25, 2016, 02:32:22 PM »
I've worked grocery retail for a while, here's just some reasons I personally wouldn't do it based on my experience...

-A significant percentage of what gets thrown out is from recalls.  Typically 1-2 times weekly we receive a recall for a product that may possibly be contaminated with e-coli, salmonella, or may be infested with bacteria from rodent droppings or with insects.  This even includes things like nuts, cookies, produce and other items on the shelf you'd never expect to contaminated, and wouldn't be able to tell by looking at.  Most of these recalls are not public knowledge, and many product quality issues are communicated between stores.  They are just pulled from shelves and thrown in the dumpster.

This is.. highly irresponsible.  If a recall is done by pulling food from shelves, there should be a public notice.  People have ALREADY bought that product.

For my part, we used to read the weekly recalls and either avoid those products or use high heat on them.  For example, when there would be some random nut recall for salmonella, we'd throw the whole batch in the oven and bake them.  Being aware of how many recalls there are, we often treat nuts this way when we buy them from the store.  Similarly, we don't buy spinach.

I've never gotten sick from dumpstered food, because we were always careful with them.  I HAVE gotten sick from numerous restaurants, and even fridge leftovers during college (pre-diving).  It's really not difficult to tell when food is no longer good, humans have been doing it for thousands of years.  My biggest fear was always botulism from canning.

Aside from recalls (which are also kind of obvious; "oh look, the dumpster is filled with 500 boxes of X. There must be a recall"), the two biggest reasons we'd see things in the garbage was due to expiration dates and damaged packaging.  That could be a dented cereal box, or something that got nicked with a razor blade during unboxing, or a broken glass bottle in a 12-pack of bottles.  It was easier for store employees to just throw out the whole case of jars than to clean up the 11 non-broken jars.

Your concerns about broken glass, razors, and other sharp things are valid.

nancy33

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #97 on: December 26, 2016, 12:21:43 PM »
Same dumpsters yesterday. The organic one was full of lettuce which wasn't packaged but would be good for the animals. there were 2 packages of 24 large muffins right on top of the other dumpster, sealed, would be good for the chickens but we got that huge bag of bread from the same dumpster the other day and the hens have barely made a dent in that there is so much of it. So left the muffins there. That was just a brief look as we were walking by ...

Cassie

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #98 on: December 26, 2016, 01:12:53 PM »
I am really glad that someone who works in this industry is pointing out all the reasons it is a bad idea to dumpster dive. I do wish the food could be used by food banks when it is safe to do so.

MustachingInIreland

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Re: Dumpster Diving for Groceries
« Reply #99 on: December 26, 2016, 03:29:05 PM »
My friend studied in a Scandinavian country for a semester abroad (our home university is in Western Europe) and she dumpster dived regularly with her friends for food near grocery stores, it's a very common activity for students there apparently since food is so expensive and a rite of passage of sorts :-)