Trash vs. Treasure

Spent my early morning scouting for trash. When I first went out to greet the day (and get this Baby back to sleep so I could enjoy a little blogging time) I heard a distant rumble, “Crap! The garbage truck!” I had been eyeing several bulging bags of leaves the last couple of days, and didn’t want to miss my opportunity, especially with the community garden plot looming large in my future.

I finished my coffee quick and unlocked my bike. Babe strapped on in my mei tai, trailer rolling behind, I pedaled a block over and picked up four huge bags. These were especially ironic. The bags were from a commercial shredded wood mulch that is impregnated with some chemical– the bag guarantees no weeds for 6 months. Rake up the leaves, spread out the petro-chemicals. Ha, ha… Ha… Hm.

Another two laps around the block yielded two more trailer loads. Yesterday I scavenged a big heap of cardboard ahead of the recycling truck. Garden mulch, here I come!

I’ve been watchful of trash cans ever since we got here. Found some decent odds and ends. Just last week found this brand new (tag still on) fancy yuppie bamboo cutting board for bread, cheese and olives. After bringing it home I realized it’s really not very useful. Too small and specific. Now it will just clutter up my kitchen until I finally take it to the Sally, so it can clutter up someone else’s kitchen… Scavenging’s downside is the accumulation of marginally useful stuff.

Also last week saw two little pumpkins in the top of someone’s overstuffed trash can. They looked like the real sugar-pie pumpkins, meant for cooking not carving (the carving variety pumpkins are a waste of time to try to eat, in my opinion. All water, no flavor). I was a little afraid they’d be just the carving variety engineered to be smaller, some kind of backwards mean trick. But after baking them and making a tasty creamy soup, I’d say- no mean trick. Perfectly good food. Out of the two little p’kins, I got one batch of soup, and enough for an as yet unmade p’kin pie, which I’ll save for Thanksgiving.

I’ve also scrounged a nice big shelf for our bedroom, scraps of lumber, a few pieces of windfall fruit.

And then there’s the monastery lemons. Which are brewing into marmalade as I write.

What I haven’t done at all since we got here is any true dumpster diving. I miss it, especially when I hand over $80 for groceries. I’ve never been a particularly brave dumpster diver, and it’s pretty intimidating here. Especially since you’re not really supposed to wander around after dark… I keep meaning to ask around at the farmer’s market to see if anyone would save me their “trash” produce. But having no chickens as an excuse, it just sounds like asking for free food. Probably, whenever I really do it, they’ll be cool about it. Most people (excepting the apparently soul-less big box grocery store owners) don’t like to see stuff wasted. This doesn’t mean they’ll go very far trying to stop the waste, but it does mean that they’ll likely be relieved if someone else does something about it.

Speaking of other people doing something about it, here’s a great mainstream media article about dumpster diving for food. Leave it to the Brits to tackle a subject Americans won’t touch with a ten foot pole. I thought they were the ones who were supposed to have a stick up their ass. Oh, that’s right, we are spawned from their most hard core prudes.

And here’s a photo gallery from the same article. They didn’t just write about it, they took and published pictures! For any of y’all who have never dived a grocery store dumpster, and never witnessed they unbelievable quantity and (oh yes) quality therein, you must look at these photos. And for those old hand DDers out there, for a good laugh, take a gander at the Dumpster Diver Barbie photos on my old blog. Product spies from Mattel be warned– I want all the royalties!

At some point in our tenure here, I hope I’ll get to do some real diving. But, until then, I’ll make do with my furtive trash can scoping.

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