It never ends

The waste, that is.  And my profiting from it.

Posted: 5/7/16


It’s friday, not usually a good ‘diving’ day… But lo and behold, i find:

• 6 oz container of blueberries, half full,  a bit wrinkled, but WTF.

BTW the blueberries are from Chile –  i grew up in Maine where blueberries are a big thing. Why i am finding them coming from Chile??? I guess it’s now (in early april here in Ca.) late summer in Chile, harvest time?

A lot of energy went in to getting these here – they shouldn’t be wasted.

• a container of strawberries, half a dozen left. Now, i get creative – i already have a tub of strawberries in syrup (which probably has plenty of preservatives in it) – so i add these strawberries to it, and the blueberries, the syrup will soften them up nicely.

• a 1 lb container of baby spinach leafs, dated 3/13. Perfectly good! Whoa! I’m gonna make like popeye the sailor! Probably have to freeze some of it, which will make it mushy, but that’s OK, that’s what happens when you cook it anyway.

• ‘Cage free’ brown eggs – 6 left out of an 18 carton, dated? …3/25.

Yes, i will continue my mantra – these ‘sell by/best by’ dates are part of the problem!!

But beyond that, do people have a brain and think a bit? They pay good money for food, but then trust the date label, and just toss it out?? Helloooo??? STUPID!!

It’s getting to where i cannot finish all that i have found before it goes bad.

Could you eat out of a dumpster? Maybe not everyday, but many days, for sure.

One incredible device/invention makes so much possible – refrigeration, a refrigerator. My mom was born in 1917, she didn’t call it a refrigerator, she called it an icebox, that’s what it used to be, a box w/ ice that kept food cold.

This is a really good ‘long read’:

An excerpt:

“Refrigeration has had a large impact on industry, lifestyle, agriculture and settlement patterns. The idea of preserving food dates back to the ancient Roman and Chinese empires. However, refrigeration technology has rapidly evolved in the last century, from ice harvesting to temperature-controlled rail cars. The introduction of refrigerated rail cars contributed to the westward expansion of the United States, allowing settlement in areas that were not on main transport channels such as rivers, harbors, or valley trails. Settlements were also developing in infertile parts of the country, filled with new natural resources. These new settlement patterns sparked the building of large cities which are able to thrive in areas that were otherwise thought to be inhospitable, such as Houston, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada. In most developed countries, cities are heavily dependent upon refrigeration in supermarkets, in order to obtain their food for daily consumption. The increase in food sources has led to a larger concentration of agricultural sales coming from a smaller percentage of existing farms. Farms today have a much larger output per person in comparison to the late 1800s. This has resulted in new food sources available to entire populations, which has had a large impact on the nutrition of society”.

Where would our culture/society be without it?


Later, same day………

• 2 buttermilk biscuits, flimsily wrapped. I take ’em – i have yet to get sick from anything i’ve ‘harvested’.

• small styrofoam container, classic beef gravy –  perfect for the biscuits!

• a 15 oz bottle of *real lemon juice*, way out of date, it’s been opened, but still probably fine. lemon juice = a lot of citric acid, a good preservative.

• 4 small carry-out squeeze packs of hot sauce – ‘Church’s chicken – Texas Pete’s’ – these things seem to encourage waste, easy to grab a handful, then toss what is not immediately used. B-B-but why not keep it for later?

4/2 Saturday

I go the Safeway for a 5$ bottle of vodka ( Vitamin V! as a friend of mine calls it), bacon, and a  can of chili beans.

( I got the bacon cause it’ll go good in a salad w/ all the spinach i found – a nice Sat PM dinner, easy on the stomach/digestive tracht.)

What do i find waiting for me in the dumpsters?

Whoa!!! In one bag:

•  A Muffin, flavor undetermined.

• Bananas, 3. One is a little black on the outside – so fucking what?

• several small bags of trail mix / asst nuts, and a small bag of ‘garbanzos c/chile y limon’ – mexican. A nice thing to have on my desk to snack on, thru the day.

• 4 oz package of tea biscuits, unopened.

• 1 sweet potato, somewhat aged/ mottled. The solution for this is simple – peel/cut off the bad parts, and cook it, ASAP, and toss that in the frig.

Next? and even more fruitful? Someone from India is moving (out?), here’s some of the take:


• An unlabeled bag of flour – i taste it, too hot for me.

• a tin of mustard seed.

• Toor Dal, and Moong dal Mogar. Which are pigeon peas, boiled and seasoned, they are a staple in India/ the mideast.

• Moong dal Mogar also known as split green gram is split in half and dehusked. Known for cooking very quickly, it is a favorite staple in Indian cooking. With a naturally sweet flavor, it makes a great dal and may be eaten as a snack with tomatoes, onions and chaat masala.

• Toor Dal = yellow pigeon peas

These are both basically ‘split peas/garbanzo beans’.

• small jar, cumin seeds

• 2 bags of curry powder – Rasam & Sambar.

• Jasmine rice, a 1 lb bag, 1/2 full.

• Last but not least – a 1 lb box of saltine crackers.

I guess indians find saltines to be incredibly bland? Can’t say as i blame them.

What’s dawned on me after gathering all this, and doing a bit of research is…

The amazing variety of grains and beans that feed the world. I grew up in Maine, the potato was *king*. Split (green)pea soup was.. the *queen*. ‘Baked beans and franks’ was a saturday night traditional dinner.

Other than that? ‘Off the map’. All these other grains/peas are news to me, but they shouldn’t be.


I came upon a full loaf of rye-onion bread.

Can you spot what is wrong with this, that it should be tossed out??


Yeah, so there’s a few spots of mold. Nothing that can’t be cured with a knife… or maybe not even that, just snip off the bad parts with your finger nails.

Makes me want to get some pastrami and swiss cheese. Mayo and mustard.

Pretend i am in NYC, at a Jewish deli.

This reminded me somehow of a comic strip i read a loooong time ago, which read: ‘we have met the enemy, and he is us’.



Walt Kelly (creator of Pogo) died in 1973, just three years after his Earth Day poster was published.


The quote used as the poster’s headline is still famous today — and the concept embodied in the poster still holds true.

To quote from the website:

“We can’t just blame the big bad corporations for the environmental problems we face. Most of the time, they are just giving us what we “demand” as consumers at a cost we are willing to pay, and abiding by laws created by politicians we elect.

We all need to our own small part, as consumers and voters. If we do, we can collectively have a significant impact on addressing the environmental problems that threaten our local communities, our country and “Spaceship Earth.”

Spaceship Earth is a world view term usually expressing concern over the use of limited resources available on Earth and encouraging everyone on it to act as a harmonious crew working toward the greater good.”


Sunday, people stay at home, do homey things, toss out, clean up, etc.

• 2 ziploc bags with partially finished foil packs of cream cheese. The ziploc bags tell me they were trying to save…so why ‘toss’? Still perfectly good!

This will compliment the onion/rye bread very well. I can hear the Manhatten traffic already 😉

• Large ziploc bag, with what looks to be a big chunk of cheese, white cheddar probably. The bag looks funky, the cheese is fine. It’s only mild, i prefer sharp – but hey, the price is right, ain’t it? 😉

I guess the previous two items were tossed out cause the bag looked funky. It’s just cosmetics, folks, grow up, get a brain, get over it.

• 12oz jar of Trader Joe’s ‘tomatillo roasted yellow chili salsa’, full – dated? 12/16. I am not much for tomatillos, but this one has more tomatoes then tomatillos – yummy!

• a big bag of Idaho potatoes, 8 left. These are still good even after the eyes sprout.

• Last, and most interesting – a 3.5 oz squeeze pack of ‘carrot split pea Kamut’ – it’s a puree of sorts. dated 4/14/16.

“Khorasan kamut is a variety of wheat and thus has gluten. However, many people with sensitivities to modern wheat report being able to eat KAMUT® khorasan wheat with no difficulty.”

One thing i have found interesting about this crazy pursuit, dumpster diving, is that done at nice apt. places like mine, i find stuff i would never ordinarily come across. So i do some research, learn something new, eat something new.


• 2 chobani yogurts in these ridiculous partitioned packets. Totally stupid packaging. A marketing gimmick.

• Buttermilk country bread, 1/2 loaf, nothing wrong with it.

• Mac and cheese – 20 oz container, not even opened – dated 4/6

• Big bottle of Kefir – mostly milk, but many pro-biotics goin’ on. dated 3/10. If milk products are bad? you can smell it immediately, this is not.

• 12 fl oz bottle of Cardini’s caesar salad dressing. The copy on the bottle tells the story of Ceaser salad, and this Cardini dude. The salad is pretty simple – just lettuce. What’s so special about that?

• A small bag of tiny potatoes!


• Kedem tea biscuits, 4 oz, unopened.

• zip loc bag of baby carrots, still lookin’ fine 🙂

• spring mix, a slightly limp. Good for one lunch salad.

• date nut bread, entire loaf! looks to be homemade, wrapped in saran wrap, no label.

• Calamari salad? – that’s what the label on top sez… but no, reused to hold a big batch of chili! Home made!!

• RITZ – ‘roasted chips’


• 12 oz cheddar cheese – half finished, 5 slices left. What’s not to like?

 • 28 oz package of breaded chicken breasts, not even opened. NOT EVEN OPENED! WTF??

• A 2 lb bag of mandarin oranges, not even opened. WTF??

• 12 oz bag baby spinach, half full. I see a few leaves that are dark green=spoiled, but most of it is AOK.

• A small 140 ml bottle of ‘Chile Pancho – Salsa Taxco‘ – habanero hot sauce. Unopened. 🙂

I am starting to be depressed by all i find. 

Yes, it saves me alotta money, no two ways about it.

But it also makes me realize i am part of a culture that is incredibly… 

stupid, short-sighted, ridiculously wasteful, thoroughly thoughtless, clueless.

I think i am a bit better than that. I try to be.


Clothes! some blue jeans, close to my size (33w) –  the waist (31) is a little tight, but that means i won’t need a belt. 🙂

Two really nicely patterned shirts, ‘Medium’ = hey! just my size 🙂

One (almost) entire loaf of wheat bread. Why does anyone toss this out?? 

I’ve got lots of cheese, all i need is a bit of meat – ham? roast beef slices?

And also … two coffees from Java Detour, just a block away. Only 1/4 consumed. Why BUY …and then waste/toss out???

I just don’t get it, why do we (as a culture) waste so much?

Yes, “we have met the enemy… he(she) sure is hell is us”.

Alotta people just don’t think too hard. At least about their food.

Too much ‘easy come, easy go’.

I came upon a bag of half dozen potatoes, the eyes weren’t growing, i took ’em home 🙂

A week later, i notice a few are getting dark/perhaps moldy? spots on them.

Easily solved w/ a kitchen knife. Work at it for a minute, it ain’t that hard.

If our trash ain’t just killing us metaphorically speaking, it can also kill us, literally:


Saturday afternoon is a good time to go ‘shopping’ 🙂

• 1/4 of a 12″ pizza – looks like there’s only tomato sauce on it, where’s the cheese? It turns out the cheese is underneath… sneaky! tastes good though, w/ some olive slices, crushed red pepper flakes and parmesan.

• A pack of  whole wheat hot dog buns, started as 8, now there’s 5. Right into the freezer!

• Chinese carry out – some orange chicken, and some asian style noodles  – once again, right into the freezer.

• A fist-full of ‘Franks Super Hot’ sauce packets. I like the small plastic packets – very convenient to take to work where my boss fills the small refrigerator completely, there’s no room for my stuff, i gotta bring it in on a daily basis.

• A 2.5 oz pack of ‘H K Anderson peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets’, half finished. The packaging (‘presentation’) is what sells this.


An ‘old timey’ truck in front of the founder’s store. Don’t know why anyone would toss out the last half, but then again I scoop spoonfuls of peanut butter outta the jar at 2 AM, love peanut butter…. and voted for Jimmy Carter too, ‘way back when’.

• A pack that used to be 8 Johnsonville breakfast sausage patties is now just one. It’s not grey/spoiled – why toss it out?. Probably because it just don’t taste to great, IMHO.

Since i am using this afternoon to microwave/bake previously found but starting to spoil potatoes, there will be plenty for breakfast – ‘fried potatoes and sausage (+eggs)’ – yum-yum. 🙂 I could feel like i am back home, in Maine, again.

• Looking forward to Monday – a big-time trash day usually…:-)

• 3 containers of chinese carryout, meat and noodles, and meat and saucy onions/etc. – i freeze some, keep the rest available because…

• 1 large plastic container of chinese style rice, both of these make dinner for 3 days!

• One very nice pillow – turns out this is a better sleeping pillow than the one i have bene using, gives some good support… and it’s nicer looking, too.



• A 4 lb container of purple grapes – still all good, mostly full.

• A 1 lb bag of green lentils, about 1/3 full. Makes good soup 🙂

• 1 perfectly good banana, a little soft, but a little soft is actually ‘ripe’.

• A 1/2 lb pack of black forest ham, ‘sell by’ dated 5/2, unopened!

From the expensive store a few blocks away – the 1/2 lb cost almost $10!

How many times have you walked into the supermarket and seen rows and rows of *green* bananas? Shipped way too soon from some where in So. America?

Why do we waste food?

“Easy come, easy go.”

Have i quoted this before?

Yep, but it’s the bottom line, the answer to this question ‘why-we-waste-food/’


• Just a 1lb bag of sweet mini peppers, red, yellow, green – not hot, just tasty. Unopened, not dated.


So i did a bit of research on your behalf.. and mine too. I am still looking for answers, but i fear there aren’t any clear ones. So be it.

Expiration Dates: Should You Pay Attention?


“Keep It or Toss It?”

“What we have now is an ineffective, ridiculous system that isn’t serving anyone,” says Dana Gunders, a staff scientist at the NRDC.

“Date labels first became popular in the 1970s. By that time, most Americans were buying, not growing, their own food, and they had little knowledge about the freshness or shelf life of store-bought products.”

That’s part of the problem – we no longer *grow* our own food, we just buy it… and have lost the knowledge/wisdom to discern what is good and what is not, and how long anything lasts in a dark cool basement shelf/root cellar, like i experienced in Maine a long time ago.

The labels are meant to empower consumers. Instead, they often puzzle and mislead them. “I am indeed confused by ‘sell by’ versus ‘best by’ versus a plain old expiration date,” says Kelly Masley, 40, who lives in Arlington. “My most frequent question with sell-by is, if the date has passed, how much longer do you have to eat it? How does that differ between sturdy things, like trail mix or beef jerky, versus chicken stock?”

The answer: It depends.

American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)

That’s all for now. I’ll be back – nothing will change much in the next month. Unfortunately.


One comment

  1. This post is making me hungry! 🙂

    Thanks for keeping this stuff out of landfills, that’s just ridiculous.

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