Category Archives: gleaning

dumpster diving

I came across the following in the letters section of the most recent issue of the Nation:

Ah, the all-American supermarket dumpster: our greatest symbol of plenty. Feelings of nostalgia well up whenever I overhear youths bragging about their latest haul. Genuine recyclers, dumpster-divers are rewarded with a cornucopia that is all the more enjoyable because of its illicit origins. 

I can remember dumpster diving only once in my life, and that was with my parents at a liquor store to get packing boxes for a move. The whole experience was humiliating and slightly traumatic, so I’ve never had any desire to repeat it.

While returning from New York recently on the Chinatown bus, I sat by a producer from NPR who told me that his roommates frequently dumpster dove, and that he had even made requests for certain items. He must have noticed the disgust on my face because he defensively added, “you know, expiration dates are only an indication of when foods should be sold. Most food will stay good well past their date of expiration.”

Yikes. Am I totally naive in thinking that this is not a widespread practice? And am I a priss for thinking that rummaging around in rotten food is revolting, not to mention imprudent?

Speaking of dumpster diving, did anyone hear this news?:

[Northwest Airlines] gave pink-slipped employees a tip sheet on how to cut living expenses. Among the suggestions: Rummage through other people’s garbage (Tip# 46: “Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash”).

Yeesh. Tip# 47: ward against potential food-borne bacteria by taking nips of scotch (but not single-malt, too pricey) after eating rummaged items.

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Filed under curations & interpretations, gleaning