Dumpster Diving for Dinner: A Mission to Save $165 Billion Worth of Edible Food


Why would the owner of a marketing company be dumpster diving for food? You could find Rob Greenfield behind your local grocery with his bike propped against the dumpster while he looks for food. He has now completed two rides across America eating primarily from dumpsters. This isn’t a case of extreme cheapskates; Rob’s goal with these rides is to draw attention to how much food is wasted in America.

On his website, he lists these statistics:

  • We throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food per year in America. That’s more than the budgets for America’s national parks, public libraries, federal prisons, veteran’s health care, the FBI, and the FDA combined.
  • About 50 million of our 317 million Americans are food insecure yet we produce enough food to feed over 500 million Americans.
  • Just to create just the amount of food that ends up in the landfills we waste enough water to meet the domestic water needs of every American citizen.

With as many as one in every seven American households being reported as food insecure and one in four children living in food insecure homes, the fact that we waste so much food on a daily basis is concerning. Charity Sub reports that 96 billion pounds of food are thrown away each year by restaurants, retailers, farmers, and individual households. In each major city that he visited on his ride, Greenfield created a demonstration with food collected from local dumpsters. He states that in a single night, he can collect from dumpsters enough food to feed hundreds of people in any given city.

food-waste-greenfield-detroitTwo hours of dumpster diving in Detroit yielded this. More images like this by Greenfield here.

Rob wants you to join his awareness campaign by taking pictures of dumpsters with food inside and post to social media with #DonateNotDump, preferably directed at the grocery or restaurant wasting the food. I would guess that Rob would like to see groceries and restaurants donate food past its sell by date to stores like The Daily Table, to food pantries, or homeless shelters. Any of these are better than throwing away edible food items. While no one wants to give rotten or moldy food away, most of the time the food that is found is dumpsters is not yet expired, it simply cannot be sold in stores. There is a big difference between rotten and expired and the sell by date.

Would you eat food that is not yet expired but past its sell by date? Would you purchase (at a discounted price) food past its sell by date that is not yet expired? What would you like to see stores and restaurants do with these food items rather than tossing them in a dumpster?

Also Read:

CHALLENGE: Buy 30 Days of Whole Foods Groceries on a Poverty Budget

Where People Waste the Most Money on Their Health

The $3 Beef, Veggie, and Noodle Dinner

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