Thanks to one of NNY’s readers for passing along this link to a Religious News Service article discussing the ethics behind a few spiritually and politically motivated “dumpster divers,” otherwise known as “freegans.” For those not in the know, freeganism is (according to Wikipedia):
“the practice of reclaiming and eating food that has been discarded. Freegans and Freeganism are often seen as part of a wider ‘anti-consumerist‘ ideology, and freegans often employ a range of alternative living strategies based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.”
Of course, if you were sixteen like I was when this scene was popping up, being a freegan just meant you had a hip excuse to eat Ho-Ho’s and still be considered “vegan.” If you were just a normal person, then it just meant you were gross.
The RNS article profiles Gio Andollo, a “NYC-based musician, writer, busker, freegan, revolutionary” who had a chance to discuss his interested in discarded goods and how that might relate to the greater Good:
“As a 29-year-old Christian, Andollo seeks to eliminate waste that leads to landfills and pollution. “The reason freeganism exists as opposed to homelessness is that there’s an ethic behind it,” he said. “It’s rescuing food from the waste stream, and it’s subverting the economic system that sees food only as product and not as food to feed people.”
“Andollo found freeganism through a Christian friend involved in Food not Bombs when he lived in Orlando, Fla. He grew up in Miami in a middle-class Christian family that avoided waste. As someone who is religious, he knows he’s in the minority among his “food rescuing” friends, though he met several other freegans at a gathering of “Jesus Radicals” in Minneapolis. “The leaders at my church either don’t care (like, no big deal), or they’re in support,” said Andollo, who attends Trinity Grace, a fast-growing evangelical church in New York City. “It’s like, ‘Gio has a perspective or lifestyle we can learn from.’”
Now, “back in the day,” if you were involved in the straightedge hardcore scene as a teenager, as I sorta kinda not really but sorta was, then you had a few options as far as eating was concerned, all of which falling under the vegetarian rubric. First, you could be just a plain ol’ boring vegetarian, which, although that distinction would send your Italian-American homemade meatball-making mother into fits of depression, it would also get you in the punk rock door.
Veganism was kind of seen as “next level,” when it came to scene diets, and was supposed to mean that you took shit seriously. Like, for serious. Beyond that you had a few who ventured (usually quite briefly come winter) into the mid-Atlantic-averse “fruitarian” diet, which although delicious, can wreak havoc on your internal fire when you need it most (i.e. Polar Vortex). A few people I knew checked out “the raw food” diet, but most were simply reveling in their fascination with MOVE, a (predominantly) black American urban Fuck You to the Philadelphia establishment who eschewed cooked food…
…but, were eventually known mostly for having a bomb dropped on them by Philadelphia police…
…which consequently burned down a few city blocks….
And yet, beyond all the varying forms of vegetarianism in the hardcore scene was the dumpster diving revelry of the freegan. From my vantage, the freegan was a person who was either fully ensconced within, or testing the waters of, the squatter punk scene. If you lived in Philly, this meant you hung around West Philly. If you lived in NYC (which was still a seemingly mysterious and lawless place for anyone across the river), than you hung around ABC No Rio. If you lived anywhere else, it just meant you were getting mugged all the time.
Or, you just ended up inviting a few friends over for some free meals:
Always seemed to make sense to me.