Worshipping God in the Real World – Dumpster Diving for Food Justice

This morning I came across an article on Grist magazine entitled Dumpster Diver Says Trader Joe’s Must Start Wasting Food

All in all, Americans throw out a whopping one-half of the food we produce and import. This wastefulness coexists with a devastating recession and record numbers of Americans dependent on food stamps—one in eight of us, to be exact. Our propensity to waste has now reached beyond our means to do so, and yet we keep up the bad habit even while our neighbors go hungry. Read the entire article

I was fascinated by this depiction of yet another aspect of our food chain that I tend to pay little attention to.  How much food is wasted in our communities and what can we do to change this.

I know a number of people in Christian communities around the world who supplement their food with dumpster diving but to be honest I have never really thought about the possibility of this bein a spiritual practice.  But the article this morning had me wondering: Could this be another issue that requires us to step forward in faith and make a difference?  Is the disposal of food waste as much a Christian responsibility as I think its production and consumption is? and lastly is our involvement in this issue yet another possible way that we worship God?

The film about and by  Jeremy Seifert  DIVE! will be released on DVD, iTunes, and Netflix on July 19.



8 Responses

  1. […] you dumpster dive for dinner? (Ryan Rodrick Beiler shares his […]

  2. There is currently a petition on Change.org to Tell Trader Joe’s to Stop Wasting Food. It would encourage the company to donate its discards to local food banks or feeding kitchens. This is a petition anyone can sign.

    I’m a dumpster diver (at Habitat ReStore and an office supply store) and am on a group online where we compare finds & socialize. Quite a number of people depend on scrounged food to feed their families.

  3. Nance I have come across several such networks. I think that it is a great idea. So much food wasted and sometimes not because stores want to but because regulations will not let them do anything else with it.

    • By regulations you likely mean Store management or company regulations. There are no federal regulations against donating dumpster food… on the contrary, there is even a federal law supporting donating. Google ” Emerson, Good Samaritan food donation act ” to see for yourself.

  4. I’ve been gleaning food from supermarket dumpsters since May 2009. All supermarkets are as wasteful as those shown in this video, but most have compactors so you can’t see the waste. The reason they are so wasteful is plain… it’s too much trouble to donate food to charitys, besides, if they give food away, then they might lose some sales. Anything that is not perfect, is tossed. New shipment in? need some room? throw out the items with the oldest “use by” dates.

    I suggest not making a fuss about Trader Joes or other wasteful stores… because if you make a stink about it, they are just going to install compactors at all their stores and a lot of gleaners will be out of good places to “shop”.

    Like the old song says “it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny”.

    • Another option besides compactors:
      In my city, grocery chains including WalMart, Harvey’s, and BiLo give their pulled food to the local Food Bank, which freezes the non-vegies. These items are distributed through 2 church ministries in boxes to needy families (to protect the Food Bank from potential liability issues). The grocers and churches do this without any publicity.

      So, for a positive potential ministry, one could try to do this locally and maybe the supermarkets wouldn’t just dump the meats and other perishables or compact them.

      Also, I collect canned goods from the Food Bank which they cannot distribute (rusted, soiled, or dented cans; past pull-date food, opened containers) and salvage some for personal and a low-income friend’s use, composting the rest and recycling the containers.

      • nance – great suggestions. I am glad to hear that happens. Some supermarkets are reluctant to give expiring food to food banks in case they get sued. Even though the food is still perfectly good

  5. Dan a very good point from someone who is more knowledgable in this area than I am. Thanks for the comments

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