Yummy bits and bobs from my kitchen!
Freegans and Skip divers enjoy the free things in life, but it’s not just about getting a free meal.
As someone who works in the food industry, food waste and our attitudes to food is something that I should be confronting on a daily basis, but in the past I haven’t been particularly conscious of it. When I moved away to uni however, I met people who identified as freegan. This was a group of people who took this kind of thing more seriously, and as a political act and gave me a new perspective on how wasteful our society is.
Many people aren’t really aware of skip diving and the freegan lifestyle, but it’s a way of life that is growing. Recently, celebrity chef and ethical campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal has been campaigning to reduce waste the UK. In episode two, he joined a couple as they went skip diving and showed just how much delicious, perfectly edible food was being thrown away by supermarkets. The waste I saw on screen annoyed me, but I have to say I was not surprised.
Almost two years ago I went on my first skip dive with the group Bath Spa Freegans, and what I saw was very similar to what Hugh saw on his first skip dive. Fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods in particular are thrown away in massive quantities. This food, as skip divers will tell you is very often perfectly edible, and more surprisingly, sometimes still within its used by date.
The glossy, aspirational “shopping
experience” that major super markets try to give out means that any cosmetic irregularities (i.e. damaged packaging, odd shapes and impending best before dates) are reasons to chuck food straight out. It’s a problem that’s easy to ignore, because again the luxurious shopping experience that attracts customers to supermarkets means that they do everything they can to hide the waste. What I and others have seen in supermarket bins is just a symptom of the public’s and the shop’s general attitude to food. Very few of us experience food at its source- we don’t understand where it comes from or what processes and suppliers it goes through between production and arriving on the supermarket shelves.
Alex, a friend who does a better job of living by an ethical, freegan lifestyle than me explained to me what it is about freeganism that appeals to him. “Freegan activities instil a sense of freedom and lightness” he said. “By relying on our own intuitive sense we come to have a more intimate relationship with ourselves and feel more comfortable in our own skin.” He went on to tell me that as a group, freegans found their lifestyle to be a positive thing many areas of their life.
Being a Freegan is not just about getting free food… although that is a bonus. True freegans disagree on principal with waste and are able to look beyond the hubbub of modern life to have a genuine understanding of where their produce comes from. I really hope that the freegan lifestyle grows, and that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal #wastenot campaign can make a real, tangible difference to the way we and the shops treat food.