a consciousness of the abuses inherent in the current economic paradigm; a praxis built on this consciousness.
It may be reflected in something as marginal as dumpster diving or something as normative as riding a bicycle! Freegans simply see the adverse impacts of production, consumption, and waste on the planet and all the creatures/ecosystems within it; then try to add value by minimizing consumption; reducing, reusing, re-purposing, and - if worse comes to worse - recycling as much as possible; and building peaceful and sustainable community life in the process.
I've had freegan inclinations since as far back as high school and I've worked with Food Not Bombs a bit in the past as well (a world-wide network of non-hierarchical organizations that rescue food waste to feed the homeless). So when I found myself in dire financial straits, in late 2009, I sought out and joined the nyc-based freegan.info group and was integrated rather quickly. I wanted to help out as much as possible, so I joined their media team. I now respond to many requests from journalists, professors, and students who are curious about freeganism.
I recently received notice that a chef/professor at Newbury College in Boston was teaching a culinary course called Ethics of Eating and hoped to have a freegan join her class for a day. I had been planning a trip to Boston, so I offered to come myself. It was a pilot course, never taught before at the school. Chef Paige Haringa invited me to come and talk about my experiences and convictions regarding freeganism.
I arrived somewhere in the middle of the class, while they were watching a documentary about freeganism. Paige paused the video and introduced me as the "freegan from NYC." After watching freegans in the documentary, the aspiring chefs looked confused, almost disgusted at the very notion of freeganism, to say nothing of the smiling freegan in their midst.
Then Paige made the announcement that none of them seemed to expect: their assignment for the day was to prepare dishes using only freegan food rescued from the school's cafeteria!
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We sat to eat the food that they prepared while I answered their questions about freeganism. I explained that "freeganism" comes from the words free and vegan, asking how many of the meals they prepared were vegetarian/vegan. Several of the meals were vegetarian, but only one was vegan. I answered several other questions and also told them about my rubber band collection.
It is truly unfortunate that so much goes to waste. As freegans, we hope to do our part in rescuing the waste, restoring value to it, building community, and educating others on the ills of our economic system. It's good to know that Chef Paige Haringa is helping us spread the message that food waste exists and that it can still be used, cooked, prepared, served, and consumed. I can only hope that these young chefs will continue to utilize these kinds of resources, to help minimize waste and maximize peace.