Freegans are scavengers of the developed world, living off consumer waste in an effort to minimize their support of corporations and their impact on the planet, and to distance themselves from what they see as out-of-control consumerism. They forage through supermarket trash and eat the slightly bruised produce or just-expired canned goods that are routinely thrown out, and negotiate gifts of surplus food from sympathetic stores and restaurants.
They dress in castoff clothes and furnish their homes with items found on the street; at freecycle.org, where users post unwanted items; and at so-called freemeets, flea markets where no money is exchanged. Some claim to hold themselves to rigorous standards. “If a person chooses to live an ethical lifestyle it’s not enough to be vegan, they need to absent themselves from capitalism,” said Adam Weissman, 29, who started freegan.info four years ago and is the movement’s de facto spokesman.
Freeganism dates to the mid-’90s, and grew out of the antiglobalization and environmental movements, as well as groups like Food Not Bombs, a network of small organizations that serve free vegetarian and vegan food to the hungry, much of it salvaged from food market trash. It also has echoes of groups like the Diggers, an anarchist street theater troupe based in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in the 1960’s, which gave away food and social services.
According to Bob Torres, a sociology professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., who is writing a book about the animal rights movement — which shares many ideological positions with freeganism — the freegan movement has become much more visible and increasingly popular over the past year, in part as a result of growing frustrations with mainstream environmentalism.
Environmentalism, Mr. Torres said, “is becoming this issue of, consume the right set of green goods and you’re green,” regardless of how much in the way of natural resources those goods require to manufacture and distribute.
There are freegans all over the world, in countries as far afield as Sweden, Brazil, South Korea, Estonia and England (where much has been made of what The Sun recently called the “wacky new food craze” of trash-bin eating), and across the United States as well.
In Southern California, for example, “you can find just about anything in the trash, and on a consistent basis, too,” said Marko Manriquez, 28, who has just graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in media studies and is the creator of “Freegan Kitchen,” a video blog that shows gourmet meals being made from trash-bin ingredients. “This is how I got my futon, chair, table, shelves. And I’m not talking about beat-up stuff. I mean it’s not Design Within Reach, but it’s nice.”
Just think...the next time you see some dirty, unwashed person digging through your garbage and eating what they find, it might NOT be someone mentally ill and living on the street. Well, living on the street anyway. The article goes into greater depth about these whacky nutjobs. I read for a bit until I ran across the description of some guy claiming half-empty bottles of crap and taking them home to consume later. That's about where I decided to pass on the rest of the article before I got to the part about how maggots add protein or cockroaches provide texture.
This almost makes me miss the old days where you can be sure that anyone pawing through your garbage looking for dinner would be dead before long from some unspecified yet virulent communicable disease. That's what we really need. A good return of the black death or thyphoid to clear out the hippies. On the otherhand, I can't imagine that professional bums are very happy at this invasion by ideological whackjobs onto their turf. If I have to lay bets about who would win in a street rumble, some unwashed hippie or a bum with a broken bottle, it's not even close. Hmm...that actually sounds like a rather cool idea. A remake of West Side Story of sorts with dumpster diving hippies versus insane, violent hobos. We can snip out the love story part and get right to the rumbles.