Why are labels so attractive? One word shortcuts for frugal thinkers. Am I a freegan? What would that mean exactly? Who curates the definitions of our cultural -isms?
Reading through the Wikipedia article on Freeganism (which is as close to a cultural consensus on anything as I think we get these days), it seems like I’m close. Except that I’m not fundamentally opposed to eating meat (it’s the environmental degradation, antibiotics resistance, health detriments, and massive resource consumption involved in meat production that get to me… but a little free meat from the dumpster? Tasty!). I also have a soft spot for shiny new laptops and other information technologies, and I believe in the greed based toolkit of money, markets, and open competition as a way to foster innovation. But I also love composting, and creative re-use, and free non-materialist forms of entertainment and recreation like reading, and writing, and cooking from scratch, and I believe that unmitigated greed, and thus so-called laissez-faire (or perhaps in many cases more accurately crony) capitalism, left unchecked, are in the end destructive forces. Greed and self-interest are kind of like dynamite: the right amount in the right place is a wonderful tool. Too much, or even small amounts in bad places, and you’ve got a mess. So how do I respond to an e-mail like this:
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?