Considered an anti-consumerism movement, dumpster diving, bin raiding or “skipping” as it’s known in England, where dumpsters are called skips, is said to have its originated with the Diggers, a group of 1960s artists and activists who lived in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and distributed rescued food on the streets.
Who are today’s divers? Meitar Moscovitz (screen name MayMay), a traveling software programmer, says he lives on the road and depends on FallingFruit for “literal sustenance.” His best find so far was around $100 worth of recently expired cheeses.
“It’s been amazing to realize that wherever I am, food is not far away,” says Moscovitz. “My situation may seem unusual at first, but a lot of people I’ve met dive.”
Definitely check out the article and for real definitely check out FallingFruit.org/dumpsters itself. But I just wanna correct the record that, while I’m sure one can get “$100 worth of recently expired cheeses,” I never have and I don’t know where that came from. Here’s the email exchange I had with the piece’s author, Lori Rotenberk:
My friend Ethan wrote me recently letting me know that you’re looking for a perspective on FallingFruit.org for Civil Eats.
Basically, I’m “the information age equivalent of Johnny Appleseed,” by which I mean in I travel the country writing free software for good people. I live on the road, and I don’t have a job, which means FallingFruit.org has been an incredible source of literal sustenance. It’s been amazing to realize that where ever I am, food is not far away. My situation may seem unusual at first, but a LOT of people I’ve met dumpster dive, or garden, and they’ve been similarly thrilled to find a resource as global and important as FallingFruit.
We’re all so used to being bombarded by cultural messages of scarcity, but FallingFruit is a window onto what I’ve come to understand as a fundamental tenet of nature: there is abundance in simple things. It saddens me to see people go hungry, and then be blamed for their inability to get food because they lack money, when the fact of the matter is that there is more than enough food to go around.
People are not starving because they do not have the money to pay for food. People are starving because we lack the decency to ensure no one needs money to eat. Falling Fruit is a way to show people just how true that is.
Thanks for writing up the project! I’m glad to see it gain more exposure!
On May 15, 2014, at 12:49 PM, Lori Rotenberk wrote:
hi maymay — i need your real first and last name, age and town where you are diving
do you dive and where and what have you been able to get to eat via dumpsters?
Well, maymay is my real name but if you’re asking for my legal name it is Meitar Moscovitz. :) I’m currently 29 but I began diving at 26.
I first started diving in Washington, DC (well, technically Arlington, VA). But, as mentioned, and I know it’s somewhat unusual, I travel a LOT. Like, I’m in a new town every month, and haven’t stopped moving around since 2011. So I’ve also dived in towns like Middletown CT, Boulder CO, and Corvallis OR.
Mostly the food stuffs I find and keep are plastic-wrapped goods like frozen burritos (Trader Joe’s is notorious for over-plastifying its food, but that means it’s easy to process [clean] after diving for it) but FallingFruit has some fantastic grocers’ dumpsters. A friend of mine in Eugene talks about the BEST cantalopes he’s ever had being from an organic grocer’s dumpster. Produce is harder for me to store because I live on the road and don’t have a fridge. Sometimes I can even get relatively fresh pizza from the back of semi-local chains like American Dream Pizza in Oregon.
So, I guess you could say the range of food is anything other people are throwing out, which turns out to be most food you can imagine. :)