Dumpster Diving in the Great Recession: 'I Did It Because I Was Hungry" (Hard Times, USA)
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The ones you see are mainly the old people and the more odd types you see walking around with shopping bags. They always have the shopping bags.
The best time is Saturday night just before the store closes for the weekend or the night before a holiday like Christmas. When they have all the special food and can’t keep it. However, any time during the day might be good. They throw things out all day. When it gets really cold, there are not as many people hunting for food. We can tell. We get a lot more stuff.
From practically any garbage can in the neighborhood we can always get partial loaves of bread that doesn’t get stale real easy.
In the summer, the bottle gangs move in. They try to get a box of something and peddle it. The irresponsible ones dump the garbage all over the place. Others try to leave the place at least as decent as when they came.
You have to be careful and wear gloves. There are often broken bottles in the cans.
Here is a list some of the things we’ve gotten at different times:
8-ounce bags of shelled walnuts.
After Halloween, a bushel of Halloween candy.
Eggs on numerous occasions—as many as three dozen eggs as many as three or four times a day. One or two eggs in a carton break and drip down the carton and they throw them away.
Once, a bushel of apples in good condition.
Any kind of boxed commodity in which they slit into it when opening it with a knife—flour and dried eggs for example.
Any kind of can goods with a label.
Jelly or syrup from a case in which one bottle broke and dropped down onto others.
In summer, bushels every day of the outside stalks of celery.
Fruit—once six lemons in excellent condition.
Broccoli, bunches of it and often.
One winter night, a whole bag of onions, slightly frostbitten.
If they put the food in a special place instead of the dumpsters and garbage cans, it would become respectable and everyone would go there. Then, the really destitute wouldn’t get it.
Copyright © 2012 by Kenan Heise. Reprinted with permission of Marion Street Press, Portland, OR.