Monday, January 30, 2006

Garbage gourmets on the streets of New York

Found this on the Dick List, who got it from Moonbattery, who found it on Drudge, who I presume found it on a news source called Breitbart.

Jan 27 10:51 AM US/Eastern

I've got yogurts!" Stephen Woloshin shouts in triumph, causing other members of his group to lift their rummaging arms and heads from the rubbish bins outside a Manhattan supermarket.

Yeah, thats right. They are digging in the GARBAGE for food. It has to do with something called "Freeganism" according to Moonbattery. Personally, I call it being pretty damn cheap.

Teachers, social workers and students, Woloshin and his fellow scavengers are far removed from the swollen ranks of New York's homeless, belonging instead to a new faction on the fringes of the environmental movement.

Teachers, social workers and students. The students I could almost understand (being stupid enough to do this), but I would think, teachers and social workers would know that they are taking some BIG risks from disease.

As "freegans," they regard over-consumption as a pernicious global trend and seek to demonstrate how people can feed themselves for "free" on the mountains of produce discarded by others.

Yeah, stuff that has been tossed because its past its sell-by date or just outright rotten.

On one particular evening, the group, kitted out with small backpacks and string bags, are on a mission in Greenwich Village, scoping the streets of the chic district before the garbage trucks rumble through.

Oooh, they be swiping high-class garbage.

Their first target is a large pile of black bags dumped on the sidewalk outside a supermarket.

How much you want to bet they rip open the bags and after rooting around for foodstuffs and junk, they leave the bags to sit?

Squatting down, they give different bags an exploratory squeeze before pulling off the string ties and plunging hand first into what they hope will prove a mystery hamper of edible seconds.

Hope they plunge thier hand into some nasty rotten potatoes. (I found one once in a place in the mall. I don't eat at the mall anymore.)

The results are mixed, both in origin and appeal -- apples, oranges, garlic, baby carrots with seasoning, and vacuum-packed chestnuts.

The vac-packed nuts may be good yet.

The freegan rule of thumb for what goes into the shopping bag and what stays in the garbage is simple: "You look at it. You smell it. You feel it. If it seems okay, you take it."

God help you if you are wrong and it's diseased, or some guy tossed the dog's crap into the bag as well.

Next stop is a bakery -- "who wants some bagels?" -- followed by the upscale wastage of a "Gourmet Garage" outlet, where the attractive aroma of rejected pastries mixes with that of rotton lettuce.

Probably not really rejected. I am sure that they are not allowed to sell anything they have laying around after so long. One maybe two days.

For Woloshin, a social worker, this is his second freegan expedition.

Wonder if the hobos know he is giving them competition for food.

"It's a good thing to expose the waste," Woloshin says. "I make good money and I can afford to buy food, but it's a shame to see this waste."

Yeah, but that dosn't mean you become a garbage picker to protest.

Janet Kalish, a 47-year-old high school teacher, criticizes stores for overstocking as a cosmetic measure to keep shoppers happy.

Beats running out of stuff and losing customers.

"It's an attempt to give people a sense of wealth .... people feel good to see shelves that are full," says Kalish, a veteran freegan of more than one-year standing.

Garbage picker for over a year. Just think another 4 and you will be fully vested as a garbage picker, if your lucky by then you will be promoted to rag picker.

Kalish has become so adept at scavenging that the only food she still purchases in traditional fashion are the soy-based products she requires for her strictly vegetarian diet.

"My meals have become more diversified because I find surprises," she says. "Things I probably wouldn't buy in stores, like endives and avocado. I wash them well and I know where there's clean garbage."

Clean garbage? Lady, its garbage.

Discussing memorable finds, math teacher Jason Samuels recalls with a gourmet's grin the still-frozen, whole turkeys he picked out of a top-end grocer's rubbish.

Good for him.

"There's not a single food we can't find in perfect condition in a bag on a sidewalk," Samuels insists.

It has still been in the garbage.

Founded several years ago, the freegan movement embraces aspects of myriad other groups, including ecologists and the anti-globalization lobby.

"The solution to world hunger lies on the streets of New York," says Adam Weissman, the organizer behind the local chapter.

Yeah, I am sure the world would love to eat NYC's garbage.

"So much food is wasted in the United States," says Weissman. "When I go to a restaurant, I bring my meal."

Then what is the point of going to a restaurant?

According to City Harvest, a non-profit organization and "food rescue" program set up in 1981, millions of pounds of good, edible food are thrown away each year by New York City food businesses.

Because laws and the FDA make them.

The New York freegans hit the streets as a group two or three times a month, although many scavenge on their own, guided by a freegan website that carries recommendations for where the most palatable garbage bags can be found.

Wonder if they tell the street people this?

Their activities inevitably attract the attention of passers-by, some of whom, like Ronnit Keha, approve of what they see.


"This consumerism, this waste ... is disgusting," Keha says.

Told you.

Some of the group members acknowledge to moments of discomfort when their rummaging in garbage bins draws stares.

Well.. its not as if you are street people.

"There's a bit of a stigma. I used to feel my heart pounding and people looking down at me," says Kalish, for whom the rewards outweigh the embarrassment.

"I once found some fantastic strawberries," she beams.

I am not sure if she is a bigger idiot than Ronnit Keha.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So... famine-stricken Ethopians are just "freegans", then? :-)

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't there a saying . . . you are what you eat?

3:52 PM  
Blogger Deathknyte said...

I would say yes, Ethiopians were freegans... if they had garbage they could eat.

Oddy: Yes. Nice observation.

9:10 PM  

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