Last weekend at the Boulder Film Festival I watched a wonderful short called Dive!. This film follows the narrator and director, Jeremy Seifert, and his small crew of dumpster-diving friends as they explore the refuse of Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles. Night after night, they find that an abundance of food in perfectly good condition has been discarded by grocery stores. A bag of avocadoes is trashed because of one rotten fruit. Organic, free-range meat is tossed because it’s approaching the expiration date – a date manufacturers use to avoid lawsuits rather than an indication of the food’s freshness. Seifert has to purchase an extra freezer because of all the loot he collects, and he, his wife, their 2 year old son and friends feast on this bounty.
The film goes beyond tales of the gourmet meals the divers create from trash. Seifert explains, “It’s about more than not wasting food. It’s about making sure everybody has enough to eat.” He wonders why, in a city where he can find such culinary abundance in a dumpster, thousands of people are going hungry. He attempts to reach the corporate headquarters of various supermarkets in order to ask about their practices of discarding food, but he is repeatedly stonewalled. He finds that working on the individual level is more effective. One New Year’s Eve, he connects with a local, friendly Trader Joe’s to bring their haul of dumpster-bound goods to a halfway house.
Offering statistics on world hunger and interviews with a busy, struggling food bank, the film reveals the disjointedness inherent in a culture that casually engages in massive waste, yet virtually ignores its own suffering citizens. Twenty percent of landfill is food, and much of it is edible. Seifert’s son Finn provides a ray of hope for the next generation. Tooling around in his toy car, he announces “Don’t food waste”.
I was reminded that we can all do this on an individual level.
- Think twice before you toss. Throwing those odds and ends into a shake or stew, not the trash can.
- Consider asking your grocery stores about their waste policies and whether they have a donation program to local food banks.
- You might even want to try a little dumpster diving yourself. It’s not illegal to take someone’s trash (as far as I know. But if it is in your county, don’t try it)!
Here’s the link to the film if you want to learn more.
*This is not an endorsement of dumpster diving…just an exploration of alternate ways of living ;)*