Friday, May 18, 2007
Urban Foraging (or, Welcome to Freegan-ville)
I've known about freegans for some time, and decided to post about them based on a conversation I had yesterday. Here's a definition of freeganism:
"Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations and where massively complex systems of productions ensure that all the products we buy will have detrimental impacts most of which we may never even consider. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able."
The word freegan is made of free + vegan. Veganism isn't the central tenet of freeganism, but it does make the word freegan catchy. I also love their term for dumpster diving: urban foraging. Although it's probably the last thing s/he would do, I think the person who coined this term should write real estate advertisements ("Rustic, character-filled home in up-and-coming neighborhood...").
The person I was talking to yesterday said he used to be vegan but would eat meat once in a while, if it was free. According to this glossay of freegan terms, this makes him a meagan.
I wonder how healthy your average freegan is. Not because they might be eating contaminated food (I think packaged food from a dumpster has only a negligibly higher chance of being unsafe), but because it seems it would be hard to get a balanced free diet. I suppose the key is to do the rounds on several dumpsters to find a variety of foods.
In NYC, it seems that Freeganism is acceptable enough to enable hosting a Freegan dinner party:
"On the menu at one recent freegan dinner party at an upmarket Greenwich Village apartment was eggplant (aubergine) parmesan with a salad of mixed greens and avocado dressing, and hors d'oeuvres of smoked mozzarella and crackers."
You just may want to warn your guests they will be eating a freegan feast beforehand, lest the following ensue:
--This eggplant is delicious; where did you find it?
--In a dumpster!
I'm happy, truly, that freegans exist. There's way too much waste in most of the world, and it seems like a fair exchange to provide that waste for free to those who want it. But I am happy to remain on the supply side of the freegan equation. If you feel differently, here is a Dumpster directory.