I need food, you need food, we need food. There is no doubt about that. The current system is not based on our needs but more on profit which leads to unbeliavable scenarios. People are dying of hunger when other waste tons and tons of edible food. This is a shame and we need to destroy the current system in place. We need to aim for healthy/organic food that doesn't hurt us nor the Earth, more local products that help our local farmers, no more animal products/factory farming that kills billions of animals every year. There is many ways to use the current system without contributing to it.
Getting food for free is easy to get. You need a bit of confidence and getting over a "being ashamed" feeling but then, it's very simple.
# Dumpster diving
The most common option is dumpster diving. This name describe exactly what you're supposed to do. First find a dumpster then dive into it.
Ok, more seriously, this is a widespread practice all over the world used by people in need or people that decided to act against the wasteful system. It consists on finding some trashes and then looking into them to find, most of the time, perfectly edible food. So you may wonder:
if it's edible, why is it in a trash then?
And I'm glad you ask that!
The main reason is that for every product there is a "shelf display expiry date" or a "to consume preferably before" date. After that, the product has to be thrown away. So this date is mainly here for marketing purposes. Afterwards the product may look slighty less attractive or loose a bit of its taste but it's still perfectly good for consumption.
The other reasons are that there is a misprint on the package, that one item is slighty damaged or sometimes there is no clear reason at all.
Stay safe and hygienic. Don't take any risk and if some food seems a bit off to you, let it in the bin. Don't play with that, food safety is a very important. Be sure to wash thoroughly all your food items, even the still packaged ones. Also, read the labels (maybe not at the bin, but afterwards) and try to guess why the item was thrown. If you find a frozen item, then be very careful, if it's been in here for too long, it can be dangerous. Stay safe (but most of the food is perfectly fine), but stay safe!
There is really plenty of food available in the bins. Globaly,the food loss and waste is estimated to around one third of the production. Of course this number includes the loss in every households and so on, but the amount wasted by the corporation is really huge.
Some people define themselves as being
freegan reducing their participation in the economy and lowering their consumption to a minimum. In this pursuit, they mainly eat from dumpster diving.
You can easily find food dumpsters behind restaurants, cafe, bakeries or supermarkets. Depending on the shops they might be easier or harder to access. Some are directly accessible from the street, others will need you to jump over fences to reach them. Some may even be locked (a good time for you to learn lock-picking 😉 or, to invest into some glue. Put it the key-hole, they will need to throw the lock. Maybe they'll buy a new one, repeat. But if not, you're good to go. If asked, you never read that information here.. 😉)
Speaking of illegal things, here is a friendly disclaimer.
Dumpster diving is often a grey area. Read the legal risks you're facing in your country/region/city for reclaiming waste products from dumpsters. Generally it's perfectly legal, especially if the trash is on the public way. But double check. If there are fences, locks or “No Trespassing” signs on the premises, consider yourself warned.
Then the timing is also very important to be sucessful. You need to be aware of the days the garbage truck come as it may have an influence. There is no real recommendation as it strongly varies from place to place, but going during the evening or at night is often the best as it's the more discreet. If you're confident, nothing stops you from checking in full day time too. Both works, just find what's best for you.
Only take what you need from the dumpster. It's often attractive to take all there is but if it ends up in our trash at home, this is useless. So only take what you know you'll be able to consume or willing to share. Chances are you're not the only diver on this dumpter. Also, don't leave a mess behind. This is a good advice if you want to come back to this dumpster often. Be vigilant by being aware of your surroundings and try to be quick.
In conclusion, stay safe, hygienic and stay away from questionable items. Then you can enjoy the pure pleasure of seeing every single bin not as a trash container but more like a chest waiting to be opened.
# Markets closing
Another great way to get free food is by going to markets just before the closing time. You can find sellers throwing away food because it's a bit damaged or they still have too much of it. You can also propose your help to pack away the stall in exchange of a few vegetables/fruits.
# Shop closing
It's possible to obtain food at the closing time of some shops. Especially the ones that need to dispose of freshly-prepared food items at the end of the day (like cafes or bakeries). You just need to dare asking if there is any leftovers.
# Outdated food
This scenario is more uncommon but can still work. Let's say you're in a supermarket and notice an item with an expiry date in the past, you can negociate to get it for free. Most of the time they will refuse the sell but you might get lucky and get it for free.
Getting your food locally is a really good action to increase the autonomy of your local area.
# Grow your own
If you have the opportunity to grow your own food, do it. This is one of the best feeling to harvest and eat food that you've grown yourself. Also it allows you to be more self-sufficient and detached from this consumerist world we defined in the intro.
This is one of the best action to give ourselves more freedom and get some power back into our hands.
Markets are a great way to meet and buy directly from your local farmers. Often there is no middleman which means that the money goes directly into the producers pocket. Make sure to support in priority (exclusively?) the organic producers.