Of the many things that keep me up at night, none is more unnerving than the growing food-waste crisis in our society and the volume of perfectly edible items that wind up in our landfills — that’s why I’m a dumpster diver.
I like to call myself a “crunchy gal,” which means, in part, that I try to find as many ways to limit my own contribution to the food-waste pandemic as I can. I care about the planet, and dumpster diving allows me to directly divert unnecessary wastage in my community.
There is an unfortunate stigma around dumpster diving, and people often imagine it as sifting through rotten mush to find food scraps like a stray dog. Just in case you were unsure, when I tell you to dumpster dive, I am not talking about rummaging around in your neighbour’s bins. I mean diving into dumpsters at grocery stores, confectionaries or bakeries.
In many cases, tossed food at these types of locations is simply past the expiration date or has damaged packaging, so it is therefore no longer saleable on the shelves. In all other regards, these foods are fine specimens of grub.
Speaking as someone who has spent a decent amount of time in dumpsters, it is really not that nasty at all. That’s certainly not to say you should wear your best attire when you hop into a dumpster — there might be a bit of digging to do.
Don’t wear your favourite pair of shoes, bring some reusable bags, and if you’re really planning to dig deep, invest in a nice pair of gloves. Planning to shower afterwards is probably not out of the question either. This may sound intensive, but I assure you, it will all be worth it.
Not only does dumpster diving help minimize waste, but it will save you money, too. After my most recent pillage, I fed myself some lovely dumpster goat cheese on my dumpster crackers, paired with a diverse selection of dumpster fruits. I dined like a queen, at no cost, and I did not contract any horrible illnesses from it.
Who among us can deny shamefully eating ancient leftovers from the back of the fridge, gambling with the fates of their digestive systems? If you’ll eat it after a smell-test result of “probably fine,” you’ve got no business feeling squeamish about a perfectly good meal from a dumpster.
I, for one, would trust a dumpster haul over any ambiguous fridge findings. If you are still unconvinced, consider this — vegetables are grown in the dirt, which is not gross. Imagine dumpster diving as harvesting vegetables from a garden, but the garden is a metal box that may or may not smell weird and contain some trash.
If you are curious, the Dumpster Diving Saskatoon Facebook page offers tips and tricks of the trade, plus regular updates on popular dive spots — my favourite dumpster is at Extra Foods on Broadway, as some of the workers will separate the good from the bad for the ease of divers.
There’s no reason not to get digging, folks. You may never have to buy groceries again, and you can feel good about helping out our planet as you feast on nutritious dumpster snacks. Make a fun day of diving with your friends, or surprise a Tinder date with a unique experience. Regardless of your approach, go at it with an open mind, as no trash pit is ever the same.
Photo: Zac Walters