The first time Elora Adamson sourced food from a waste bin it was an ordeal.
“I remember vaguely the first time my roommate took me out dumpster diving,” Adamson said. “It was a big thing. We were wearing rubber boots and gloves and headlamps. It was an expedition. Now it’s like I’m on the way home, I’ll pass a dumpster or a grocery store I know and I’m think ‘oh, better take a look in here,’ and you pull out a couple loaves of bread and go home.”
Adamson and her friend Riley Yakabuski are sourcing all of their meals from foods wasted by grocery stores until January 18. The concept isn’t new to them — they say there’s a relatively large dumpster diver community in Victoria, notably in student circles. They’re doing this to both raise awareness about food waste, but also to raise money for Feeding Canada, an indigenous-led organization based in Toronto that helps combat food insecurity in northern communities.
Through GoFundMe, the two initially aimed to raise $1,000. After shooting through $1,500 they’ve now extended their goal to $2,000, and the crowd funding platform has listed their drive as a “trending” item.
“A lot of the food that we take is just coming from organics bins,” said Yakabuski. “So it’s not like there’s anything that would be toxic in there.”
“People will have varied reactions,” Adamson acknowledged. “In Victoria there’s a pretty big dumpster diving scene, especially in our circles and at the university it’s quite common. When I first told my parents and people back home and my broader circle, people imagine you eating scraps and rotting food, and that’s really not at all what it is.”
Although they’ve primarily fed themselves through vegetables, they have managed to find protein sources. They say they haven’t noticed any decreased energy or ill affects from their new food sources. They say most food is discarded because it hits arbitrary best-before dates, or simply doesn’t look right to shoppers — like a discoloured pepper, for example. The pair would like to see increased education on best before dates and efficient food preparation, both inside and outside of grocery stores.
“In France, all grocery stores are not allowed to throw out food, they have to donate it,” Yakabuski said. “Then the people that receive the donations will sort through it – like soup kitchens, redistribution networks and stuff like that. I think that by implementing a policy it might be shocking at first, but I think that it’s something that can easily be adjusted to have a huge overall impact.”