Adventures in Urban Foraging

Okay, so I'm attempting to dignify my nocturnal activities. It's Dumpster Diving, Baby! And, being the frugalista I (cl)aim to be, I can't exactly not explore all aspects of frugality, right? So I'm giving this a week, to see if it's at all beneficial to our budget and lifestyle. Dare to come along?

Day 1
Spent the day "researching" my intended targets. Meaning trolling different grocery stores to see how they dispose of their refuse. And, I'm sorry to say, most of the larger retailers no longer use dumpsters...they use these completely-enclosed, pass-it-down-the-chute-and-straight-into-the-garbage containers. Only three locations looked as if they had potential.

Day 1 Later
Okay, one of those locations (grocery store) is directly under a streetlight on a fairly heavily-trafficked street. And, as noble as my intentions, I'm still unable to get by the stigma of being a trash-picker, and I'm not really interested in being publicized. The second location (also grocery store) was great, even had a pretty great find of a perfectly intact bag of hamburger buns in the dumpster, but alas, I was ill-equipped. I couldn't reach the darn thing! Got to fashion a stick with a hook on the end! And the last location (fast food), well, the employees were still there pretty late, so I didn't even try.

Day 2
Couldn't drag my behind out of bed. Will try again tomorrow.

Day 3
Hooked stick in hand, I checked out second location. I guess they get their trash pickup on Sundays or Mondays. I'd still love to get into that dumpster, even tonight, there were a bunch of tomatoes and a watermelon in there, but that thing is so deep, if I jumped in I'd never get out! And, since I'm doing this O Solo Mio, I'm not looking to get into a jam I can't get out of (I can't think of a more embarrassing situation than calling 911 from inside a local dumpster, the Troy Daily News would have a HEYDAY!).

(sidenote: if you Google "Dumpster Diving Troy Ohio", you come up with a MeetUp website with a bunch of people here in Miami/Montgomery County who are interested in starting a meeting about this. Hmmmm, is there like a whole subterranean culture of people who do this?)

Location 3 was paydirt! It wasn't the goodies I was wishing for, but definitely some usable stuff. The fam will be eatin' good tomorrow!

Day 4
Another cop-out night. I'm just an early AM person, and it's hard to drag my albeit smaller fanny out of bed when DH gets home from work at 1am. Tomorrow's another day....

Day 5
I feel weird, shopping at a store during the day, then hitting their dumpster for freebies by night. And it's getting so that handing over cash for what I know will be gratis in a day or so feels wasteful. Could I be moving over to the dark side? Hmmmm.

Anyway, we'll save the psychoanalysis for later. Location 2 was a hit tonight! I probably walked away with 15 lbs of barely-unsellable green grapes, and a beautiful loaf of Italian bread. The grapes are currently soaking in a sink full of mild bleach solution, since they were open in the dumpster. Once we're done picking through and eating the best of the bunches, I'll be turning the rest into raisins. There were also some pretty sexy beef roasts in the bin, but there has to be limits to this experiement, and we don't want to be human Petri dishes.

Not hitting third location tonight - hopefully I'll be visiting with Mr. Sandman by the time that location is ripe. Maybe tomorrow....

Day 6
I know I said this was going to be a week-long experiment, but DH is going to be working very late the next few nights, way too late for me to get up and forage safely. So I'm calling it off now.

You know, this wasn't as painful as I'd feared in the beginning of the trial. I found a grocery store with a very accessible dumpster, and a penchant for acting in true "wasteful American" fashion. On that note, I'd like to send out snaps to Meijer, who not only clearances their meat department, but also takes the time to do it in both their produce and dairy department. Truth be known, these clearance carts are always regular stops on my grocery journies, and I rarely walk away without buying. With the economy being where it is, surely second location could benefit by adopting this practice - but please don't, because then I won't benefit from your freebie dumpster fodder!

Another thing - dumpster diving inspires creativity. You can't walk into a dumpster knowing what's going to be awaiting you, but you have to be prepared to think outside the proverbial box to use what you get. The Great Grape dilemma last night taught me that. It was really an A-HA! moment when the raisin idea popped into my head, since my first thought was tossing then browning grapes into my own trash can.

Am I going to continue doing this? Absolutely! It's a very attractive source of food, it's free, and with a little forethought, the time investment isn't that great at all. The one thing that would make this soooo much better would be company. A little teamwork could go a long way, both in prosperity and safety. I'm debating starting a Yahoo Group about urban foraging - we'll see where that thinking takes us.

Now I just have to come clean with DH. He's been so patient, watching me venture out in my dark outfits with a flashlight, and really he's been in the dark, too. While he's getting more open to frugal ideas, I just wasn't sure how he'd react to this. So I told him to trust me, I wasn't doing anything illegal (I hope it's not, but that still needs to be checked out), and I'd explain it all at the end of the week. Wish me luck on that, LOL!

No comments:

Post a Comment