Dumpster Diving for Treasure

By Jenny Hoang

The warm summer air fueled us as we jumped into the large dumpster behind Cash & Carry grocery store where we found cartons of juice, bags of bell peppers, pasta sauce, and moldy cheese.   The smell of the dumpster, to say the least, is thick with rancid fish as it burns the insides of my nose hairs.  Everything we find is either expired or defected in some way yet is still edible.  You would not believe the treasure found in these dumpsters!

I was introduced to the art of dumpster diving by a veteran diver last quarter.  After watching the documentary “Dive” my curiosity became an obsession and I had to know what it was like to dumpster dive.  What a sight it was.  Keeping in mind to only take the food above the warm slime, which I dubbed “the stratosphere of death”, most of the fruits and vegetables are completely edible.  Above the slimy goo, there lay a perfect patch of strawberries ready for the picking.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 34 million tons of food waste was generated in 2010.  That is a little over 93 tons a day!  Food waste accounted for almost 14% of the total municipal solid waste stream, less than 3% of which was recovered and recycled in 2010.

These statistics came alive after I dove into these dumpsters belonging to Bellingham grocery stores.

After spending what seemed like a century in these dumpsters, we emerged from the smelly wombs with a supply of vegetables, juice, and fruit.  The only battle wound we received were stains of slime on our shoes and pants.  Not a bad way to get free food, huh?  The food tasted absolutely delicious (after a thorough washing of course) and so much more rewarding than anything I’ve ever bought from the grocery store.  I highly suggest anyone to try it sometime.  I’ve never felt so rewarded obtaining food before (even better than growing your own).  It’s the best excuse t o get dirty!