Adventures in Dumpster Diving: Boone, NC by jess lingle

On any given day, ridiculous amounts of food are thrown out by various restaurants and grocery stores around the United States, contributing to the startling high annual global food waste total. Which turns out to be about 1.3 BILLION TONS. European and North American countries contribute significantly higher quantities of food waste especially in the phases of production & retail. Food waste and losses are directly related to various issues regarding the degradation of our environment and climate. Contrasted with the fact that 1 in 9 people (815 million) in the world today is identified as undernourished, the current state of food wasted is disconcerting and unacceptable.

http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/ https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/hunger/

don't knock it 'til you try it

While food waste issues need to be addressed (in the US) on multiple fronts especially those relating to policy change and corporate responsibility and cooperation, individual consumers are taking this issue into their own hands by participating in an act that many might initially see as radical and "gross". Dumpster Diving.

It's best to go at night, because that's when most places are starting to close down and take their trash out for the day. Also the cover of darkness helps ease the stress induced by the blurry lines regarding the legality of taking food+ from an establishment's dumpster.

you have to be willing to get a little bit dirty and to be playful and have fun with it.

We decided to check out as many places as we could think of, typically you'll have to drive behind the buildings and see if they use a dumpster or a trash compactor (bad news, you aren't going to get in and you won't want to anyway).
Once you find your desired dumpster then it's about getting in, it's best to avoid locks but a loose chain turned out to be very easily un-rigged.
It's important to not get discouraged if you aren't finding much. What and how much you find changes from day to day and some establishments are more conscientious than others about how they combine their food waste and dirty trash.
But you'll be amazed by what gets thrown out- often in incredible quantities.

It's all about being picky, you've got to investigate what you find thoroughly to understand why it was thrown away in the first place. While there is plenty of truly gross and bad food in the dumpsters, often times food is thrown out because there was just too much of it, it is barely out of date, or it didn't 'look' appealing enough to sell.

Taking a minute to enjoy the spoils and fuel up for more diving.
Sometimes you'll feel uneasy when you see a cop drive by on a nearby road as you're diving; it's best to trust your gut and make a hasty retreat to your car and then make moves to your next spot.
Success! Whole pizzas still in their boxes just waiting to be found by lucky divers such as ourselves who didn't have to spend a dime for a midnight pizza party.

Sometimes it's about really getting down into the dumpster and picking and sorting through to find hidden treasures and delicious food stuffs.

Huzzah! Pictured here is about 2/3 of our total dumpster haul! And this was just after about two hours spent exploring in our little town's grocery stores' and restaurants' dumpsters that we could access.

We collected bagels, donuts, breads, bakery items (not even out of date yet!), pizza, and a mix of veggies including: squash, radishes, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery.

totally edible, delicious, and free.

Special thanks to Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme, Food Lion, Dollar Tree, Ingles, Papa John's, + others around town for leaving your dumpsters unlocked.

Created By
jess lingle


photos by Jess Lingle

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