Free Food! From Bins...
by Mya Goschalk
"So, it was midnight and round the back of Tesco's I managed to find three packets of root vegetables, 5 packs of minstrels and a bag of potatoes… all from the bin. And there was more! I just couldn't carry it all.", one freeganist told GreenZine.
What has come to be known as 'skipping' or 'Freeganism' is a social movement began in the 90s aiming to tackle issues of consumerism and food waste by encouraging 'freegans' to reclaim food which has been thrown away by supermarkets. To many this may seem completely extreme, unhealthy and outright dirty. But the truth is that the 'sell by' dates on products sold in supermarkets are over cautious and provide dates which are much earlier than when the product really becomes inedible. Although supermarkets may reduce prices dramatically at the end of the working day, a large part of this food is still thrown away. This is incredibly wasteful as not only does the food go uneaten despite the energy and water that goes into producing it, but often this food is still perfectly fine to eat.
In Cambridge, these issues of food waste have started to be tackled by organisations such as Food Cycle that reclaim food from supermarkets that is about to be thrown away and serves it to homeless people on Saturday afternoons. But there is only so much food that FoodCycle can save. One morning in November, Food Cycle Cambridge had collected four bin bags full of bread discarded from Sainsbury's- unbelievably, the collector claimed there was more that he simply couldn’t carry.
Organisations such as Food Cycle go some way to tackling issues of local food waste. However, anti-consumerist residents of Cambridge can take up these values more radically and proactively by practising Freeganism. It's not for the faint-hearted- traipsing round the back of Burleigh Street in the early hours requires safety measures and reliable company, but the achievement of saving food from going to waste, and getting it for free certainly goes some way to satisfy the more radically-minded!