Would you eat from a dumpster?

In my quest to try every supper club in existence, I came across this unique concept in  Brooklyn, New York City recently.

This was a different kind of supper club.

You only pay what you want. It can be as little as $5. And the hosts probably wouldn’t mind, because well, they got all their produce for free, after all.

Free? Yes, free…..as all the food served on the dinner table this evening was taken from local NYC dumpsters.

That’s rubbish bin in Singapore lingo.

Without going as far as to horrify the most squeamish of you, most of the produce is usually taken from the dumpsters of restaurants and supermarkets (known as “dumpster diving”) — generally perfectly edible produce that these establishments have thrown out simply due to their ‘sell-by’ date. Hundreds and thousands of truckloads of food are thrown out like this every month, every year. In a world where a large proportion of humankind is starving — forget Africa, in the back alleys and ghettos of New York City even — this kind of food wastage is appalling.

A New World In Our Hearts, our hosts for the evening, were trying to call attention to this through “Grub, A Community dinner” a bi-monthly dining event, where they fashion a full dinner for 50-odd people, solely through food foraged from these dumpsters.

How do these supermarkets and restaurants react when they see their produce being taken? Apparently, some of them are pretty friendly, and A New World have informal agreements with them to take their food as and when its thrown out. If you’re imagining that this food is thrown in a dark, foul smelly dumpster mixed in with rats and 7 year old wall sludge, STOP. It’s not. It’s usually nice, fresh boxes of tomatoes, left outside the back door of a supermarket. Described as ‘freegan’ food, the hosts say, “About 99 percent of the food we serve is freegan, which means it is excess, ripe, nearly ripe, or slightly damaged food that has been recovered from the waste of grocery stores”. Of course, not all food establishments are this friendly and giving. Many will intentionally pour detergent all over their thrown out produce, just so noone can consume it. Pretty petty, no? Scroll down to see our meal:

Boxes of produce

The food itself was mediocre (it was vegetarian/vegan after all. Maybe if I was a homeless person?) but  I loved the idea behind it. Met lots of interesting people (including plenty of anarchists) but my favourite part was that it was held in the premises of an underground B&B set up by friends of A New World, and we got a tour of the entire set-up.I’ve always wanted to start my own B&B, its part of my retirement plan. Check out 3B Bed & Breakfast.

If you’re ever in Brooklyn, New York, you can also go dumpster diving with these guys by helping them go forage for food 1-2 days before any scheduled dinner. Contact them and they will send you details on their next dumpster diving expedition. You can also go early on the day to help prepare the food.

I like to say that, at Khana Commune, we don’t waste any food either. If we overcook (which we do alot), we just eat the leftovers the next day. Or for the next 3 days 🙂

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3 Responses to Would you eat from a dumpster?

  1. bundi says:

    sounds interesting, i’ll go check it out!

  2. Extremely interesting concept, although maybe a bit risky hygiene wise… But just thinking about how much food is wasted and how much people are starving every day is such a shame.
    I have a few questions for you to go with the photos you sent me, and one was about your dream to perhaps open a restaurant… now I know, it’s a B&B… haha!!

  3. Juls says:

    Why can’t you eat food that had detergent all over it? Can wash mah?

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