New environmental trend: eating other folks’ leftovers

Here at Grist we love reporting on new environmental trends, especially when there are gimmicky new terms coined to describe them. Herewith, we give you the “freegan,” someone who subsists entirely on food other people — usually restaurants or grocery stores — have thrown out. Though freegans can often be found rooting through dumpsters around closing time, for the most part they are not jobless or homeless — they are simply protesting a culture that discards tons of edible food while people starve elsewhere in the world. Adam Weissman, a part-time New York City security guard who has lived almost entirely on free, discarded food for some nine years, says freeganism is “about being aware of the insane waste by our culture of overproduction and overconsumption.” He claims he has never gotten sick from discarded food: “When you throw out food from your refrigerator, it’s at the point where it’s gross. That’s not the case with stores.” Freeganism is not without its risks, though. As adherent John Phillips explains, “People go crazy because they find a 50-pound bag of doughnuts. Restraint is a problem.”