What are we doing?

CaltechPhDEatsGarbage
Caltech PhD Students Collecting Food

Just pulled a week’s worth of food out of a Trader Joe’s dumpster.  Eggs, blueberries, apricots, chocolate cake, frozen ribs, chicken thighs, lettuce, bagels, breads of every description.  We kept a bunch of it.  Sorted the fruit into compost vs. smoothie quality, froze the latter.  Sent what we couldn’t eat to a homeless shelter with another volunteer.  I feel like the more I look at the margin of our society, the more I have to wonder, what the fuck are we doing?  How did we get to this place, to this way of being?  How can we think that this is okay?  One hundred gallons of water for every ounce of beef; ten fossil calories burned for every one we produce as food, and then a third of that food sent to the landfill, while people, only a couple of miles away, are hungry?  While whole neighborhoods in South Central LA have no grocery stores, only liquor stores and fast food junk?

Maybe more importantly at this point, where are we going with this?  It’s a long way down from here.

5 thoughts on “What are we doing?”

  1. Worse than that…our local equivalent of Trader Joes has secure dumpster enclosures, so no ‘waste’ can be recovered before it heads to the landfill. Walking around the city on the evening before trash day is like going to the animal shelter – you want to take them all home with you, but you don’t have the room. I wish I could find an unlocked food dumpster though – that I could find room for.

  2. It was a weird experience, because I wasn’t intellectually surprised — I already knew we were throwing this much food away — but I was somehow viscerally shocked. The experience of digging through a mountain of food that I wouldn’t throw away if it were in my own house, but which had been thrown away, was somehow much more disturbing than just knowing about it. Our society is completely insane.

  3. There was a security guard too, who thankfully didn’t seem inclined to make a scene. He wrote down the license plate of someone who had driven, and stated half-heartedly that “we weren’t supposed to be here”, which of course was true, but fell far short of “You are trespassing, leave immediately.” And there were some bona-fide poor people, who took what they could carry.

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