Thursday, June 7, 2007

Moldy Blueberries (The Downside of Dumpster Diving)

I get many positive responses from people about my posts on dumpster diving and many people have reported that they have begun diving themselves. I feel GREAT about this. Not only does dumpster diving make eating raw fruits and veggies affordable for my family and others, it also prevents these items from ending up in a landfill, where they will take a loooong time to decompose.

However, it must be said that dumpster diving has a seemy dark underbelly besides the obvious social stigma of "digging in the trash."

First of all, all of my dumpster diving takes place at a location where there is NO organic produce available. If you can dumpster dive for organics, terrific! But I would venture to guess that most dumpster finds are conventional produce. Conventional produce is laden with pesticides, and has a lower vitamin and mineral content than organic produce because of the growing practices used. At least, i can feel happy that I did not use my dollars to "vote" for these products by purchasing them.

Furthermore, the nutritional quality of the produce which has endured shipping and sitting on the shelf for some time, has declined.

Digging in the dumpster can range from easy clean pickin's to down and dirty diving. Sometimes I have to climb in and get my shoes gooshy. Sometimes they throw plants in potting soil in the dumpster and everything is covered with dirt. Sometimes it rains and everything is soaking wet. There is always a stinky chemical smell, that I hope is the scented trash bags they use to bag up all of the bathroom and office waste. I have never seen any rats or cockroaches. Does this mean they are spraying for them? If so, I hope they are doing it outside the dumpster. Since all of the produce is usually encased in packaging, I feel somewhat safe, but...

Then, of course, there is the obvious time and energy drain of picking through 84 quarts of moldy blueberries just to come up with 25 or so quarts of so-so blueberries.

And then there is the increase in garbage. I am able to compost a large amount of organic waste and recycle plastic containers. If you are not able to compost, expect a significant increase in your trash. As it is, I must throw away all of the styrofoam trays that much of Aldi's produce is packaged in.

However, I do hope that you keep diving, especially if you, like me, cannot otherwise afford to eat a huge quantity of fruit and veggies otherwise.



m said...

Hey there,
I am super interested in dumpster diving but I have a question before I venture out. What time of day do you go? I reckon night time would be good as to avoid employees but then you can't see well enough.

Greenmama said...

I go out at various times of the day. The most common time to go is at night, to avoid employees and nosy customers. Just take a flashlight. At my Aldi dumpster, there is overhead lighting as well.

If I am going to the store anyway, I almost always check in the dumpster. I have almost been caught a few times, but I just said "Hi," to the employee or truck driver, and left the dumpster area.

There are advantages of going during the day; you are less likely to run into other dumpster divers (competition) and the produce hasn't had exposure to the hot temperatures for very long.

m said...

Thanks! I really enjoy reading your journal. I'm also an 811rv'er. Dumpster diving is something I've always wanted to venture into -- I'll tell you how it goes!

Valerie Winters said...

Thanks for being so honest about the darker side of dumpster diving. Good blog.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.