Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sustainable City Living: Freegan Lessons

Lessons From The Freegan Lifestyle

What can we learn from Freegans, to live in a more Sacred manner?

And How They Apply To Sacred Living

I began introducing the idea of Sacred Living last week in the post The Sacred Kitchen.  This post is an extension of the idea of viewing the kitchen as a Sacred Space in the home.  The importance of sustainability in living a sacred, balanced life goes without question.  The whole point in living a sustainable lifestyle is to produce as little waste as possible.  By living in this manner, we are living sacredly by honoring the sustenance we have been blessed with.  Through creating as little waste as possible, more room is available for allowing your greatest and highest good into your life.  This is where the idea of Freeganism has a great deal to teach those interested in sustainability and its role in Sacred Living.

What Is A Freegan?

A Freegan is an activist. Plain and simple. They have plenty of money, but they choose to, in most cases, practice the act of civil disobedience by "dumpster diving"; taking food and other items out of the dumpsters of local and big chain stores. They are breaking the law. It is considered stealing to take the items out of these private dumpsters. They are trying to educate people by exposing how much waste our current economy and culture produce. Ironically, by participating in the practice, many Freegans literally eat for free.

I do want to note here that the Freegans I have encountered in my research do not have children. If anyone incapable of understanding this lifestyle were to discover that you were feeding your children food from a dumpster, I'm sure you would have a visit from your local Child Services representative not long after. Also, the fact that this is technically illegal, leaves you open to the possibility of arrest.

My Introduction To Freeganism

I was first introduced to the alarming amount of food wasted in our culture by an organization called Food Not Bombs.  I discovered them in the late 1990s when I was invited to dinner at the main bus stop, in the town where I live. Every Thursday they would dish out a free dinner (one bowl dishes like soups or stews ~ I had potato salad). The dinners were always vegan and they were always prepared from food local restaurants and grocery stores, willing to donate to the organization. The food could not be legally sold, but it was perfectly fine to eat.

Disposing of foods when they are still edible, but not fresh, avoids spoilage of newer vegetables, which keeps product quality higher. Aside from government guidelines, the reputation of a food retail business is based on how fresh your purchase is. The length of time the product lasts once it gets home is how you, the consumer, rate the freshness.

That being said, my eyes were opened wide. Then, several years later I ran into this concept of Freeganism. It's based on the ideas introduced to me by Food Not Bombs. The food that is accessible in the dumpster of a grocery store or even restaurant is still good enough to cook. You could cook it and feed homeless people, or you could cook it, feed your family and freeze it. It's up to you. All that matters is that in the time it's taken me to write this, several someones in this world have wondered where their next meal is coming from. In that amount of time, our culture has also wasted enough food to feed most of them.

Reduce Food Waste In Your Home

By writing this post, I am in no way asking everyone out there to start digging through dumpsters. If this post inspires you to apply this lifestyle in any way, then more power to you. I personally do not have the time to do this and if I were to get arrested I would lose my job because I'm an educator. But what I do have the time to legally do is ask you to read this and watch the videos. My hope is that if I show my readers how wasteful our culture is and also ask you to remember that, right now, there are children all over this country, and the world, who are hungry and need good food to eat, then maybe you could find some way in your daily life to reduce the amount of food waste produced by your household.

Here's some ideas to get your started:
  • Make it a point to freeze leftovers if it doesn't look like anyone is interested in eating them right now.  
  • Freeze vegetables that are not going to be used before they go bad. Chop onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, etc. and place them in freezer bags to be used in soups or stews later on.
  • The same can be done with eggs. A colleague of mine will break eggs individually into an ice cube tray. Once they are frozen, break the eggs out of the tray and put them in a freezer bag. 
  • Donate canned goods and other items from your pantry that you know are not going to be used.
  • Turn holiday leftovers into pet food.  I took the turkey and veggie leftovers from Thanksgiving, and mixed them in a food processor with rice and a little water.  My cats couldn't get enough of it.  A much more sustainable option to canned food.

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