Freeganism has been around for a while — the New York Press had an article over a year ago about the trend — but it seems to be gaining some interest lately, after the New York Times ran a piece in late June (not linked due to it being a pay article).
Freegans might be best described via this website, Freeganism.info:
Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.
What does that mean on a day-to-day level? It means they eat garbage.
(A group of people have organized “dumpster diving” in) various trash heaps and dumpsters of Manhattan to gather discarded food. The activity is part of a larger social movement known as freeganism, which views capitalism as the primary force in destroying the environment and avoids the capitalist structure through such practices as eating discarded food, squatting in abandoned buildings instead of paying rent and refusing to hold a job. Just as vegans are vegetarians who avoid animal products, freegans subsist only on free food found in the garbage as consumer waste. In Manhattan, there is plenty to go around.
Raiding dumpsters isn’t actually new, it’s called being “homeless,” so I guess Freegans are just homeless people with some publicity spin. Whatever, I’m all for it, if they’re into it. And by “all for it” I mean that I wouldn’t jump into a dumpster to eat a meal because I think it’s disgusting.
According to Freegan.info, “the goods get fancier and fresher as you go south” and that comment referred to the Upper East Side. Some of their favorite targets, according to the site, are Key Food on 2nd Avenue and 92nd Street (“On our first foray, we found only some shrink-wrapped produce”), Patak’s Gourmet Deli on Madison Avenue between 89th and 90th Streets, Gristedes on Lex and 89th (“dairy and eggs galore”), Eli’s on 3rd between 80th and 81st (“most of their trash goes through a compressor, but on our first dive we found about five bags of uncompressed food including yogurt, almonds and butter”).
Sounds delicious. The full list of favorite Freegan dumpster dives in the city can be found here.