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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 1/31/2006 7:10:36 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/31/2006 7:10:58 PM EST by purplecheese]

Garbage gourmets on the streets of New York

Fri Jan 27, 12:44 PM ET

NEW YORK (AFP) - "I've got yogurts!" Stephen Woloshin shouts in triumph, causing other members of his group to lift their rummaging arms and heads from the rubbish bins outside a Manhattan supermarket.

Teachers, social workers and students, Woloshin and his fellow scavengers are far removed from the swollen ranks of New York's homeless, belonging instead to a new faction on the fringes of the environmental movement.

As "freegans," they regard over-consumption as a pernicious global trend and seek to demonstrate how people can feed themselves for "free" on the mountains of produce discarded by others.

On one particular evening, the group, kitted out with small backpacks and string bags, are on a mission in Greenwich Village, scoping the streets of the chic district before the garbage trucks rumble through.

Their first target is a large pile of black bags dumped on the sidewalk outside a supermarket.

Squatting down, they give different bags an exploratory squeeze before pulling off the string ties and plunging hand first into what they hope will prove a mystery hamper of edible seconds.

The results are mixed, both in origin and appeal -- apples, oranges, garlic, baby carrots with seasoning, and vacuum-packed chestnuts.

The freegan rule of thumb for what goes into the shopping bag and what stays in the garbage is simple: "You look at it. You smell it. You feel it. If it seems okay, you take it."

Next stop is a bakery -- "who wants some bagels?" -- followed by the upscale wastage of a "Gourmet Garage" outlet, where the attractive aroma of rejected pastries mixes with that of rotton lettuce.

For Woloshin, a social worker, this is his second freegan expedition.

"It's a good thing to expose the waste," Woloshin says. "I make good money and I can afford to buy food, but it's a shame to see this waste."

Janet Kalish, a 47-year-old high school teacher, criticizes stores for overstocking as a cosmetic measure to keep shoppers happy.

"It's an attempt to give people a sense of wealth .... people feel good to see shelves that are full," says Kalish, a veteran freegan of more than one-year standing.

Kalish has become so adept at scavenging that the only food she still purchases in traditional fashion are the soy-based products she requires for her strictly vegetarian diet.

"My meals have become more diversified because I find surprises," she says. "Things I probably wouldn't buy in stores, like endives and avocado. I wash them well and I know where there's clean garbage."

Discussing memorable finds, math teacher Jason Samuels recalls with a gourmet's grin the still-frozen, whole turkeys he picked out of a top-end grocer's rubbish.

"There's not a single food we can't find in perfect condition in a bag on a sidewalk," Samuels insists.

Founded several years ago, the freegan movement embraces aspects of myriad other groups, including ecologists and the anti-globalization lobby.

"The solution to world hunger lies on the streets of New York," says Adam Weissman, the organizer behind the local chapter.

"So much food is wasted in the United States," says Weissman. "When I go to a restaurant, I bring my meal."

According to City Harvest, a non-profit organization and "food rescue" program set up in 1981, millions of pounds of good, edible food are thrown away each year by New York City food businesses.

The New York freegans hit the streets as a group two or three times a month, although many scavenge on their own, guided by a freegan website that carries recommendations for where the most palatable garbage bags can be found.

Their activities inevitably attract the attention of passers-by, some of whom, like Ronnit Keha, approve of what they see.

"This consumerism, this waste ... is disgusting," Keha says.

Some of the group members acknowledge to moments of discomfort when their rummaging in garbage bins draws stares.

"There's a bit of a stigma. I used to feel my heart pounding and people looking down at me," says Kalish, for whom the rewards outweigh the embarrassment.

"I once found some fantastic strawberries," she beams.

ETA: Forgot Link news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060127/ts_afp/afplifestyleusfood_060127155142
Link Posted: 1/31/2006 7:11:40 PM EST
and some say that liberalism is not a mental disorder
Link Posted: 1/31/2006 7:15:58 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/31/2006 7:24:42 PM EST by Sub-MOA]
mmmmmm garbage

And let me guess... When they do get ptomaine/botulism, it's all about the free clinic.
Link Posted: 1/31/2006 7:22:24 PM EST
Well, all the more reason to either piss in my trashcan before curbing it, or sprinkle it with powdered CS. On second thought, I'll do both!
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 5:24:24 AM EST
{Cartman} Damn Hippies! {Cartman}
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 5:35:57 AM EST

When I go to a restaurant, I bring my meal.

That must make her real popular with the restaurant staff.
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