- An Attack on Consumption -
- In Defense of Donuts -
Freeganism is essentially an anti-consumeristic ethic about eating; asking "Why freegan?" is
essentially asking "Why not consumerism?, so here is a quick criticism of consumerism.
Treading lightly on the Earth - Our high impact, produce & consume society puts a very intense strain
on the Earth and her resources. Rainforsets are clear-cut to provide more land for food production.
Food production also consumes vast quantities of fresh water, one of our fastest-depleting
resources. And then there is the packaging! Go look in your trash right now and most likely it will be
filled with plastic, paper, and styrofoam packaging from food products (if not you get mad props!).
Go look in any trash or landfill and you will see literally tons & tons of packaging. The act of
consumption is the transformation of natural land and resources into money for corporations and
acres of trash in landfills. (This is not a good thing.)
Anti-Capitalism - If you are an "anti-capitalist", what vetter way to protest the economy than
withdrawing from it and never using money?
Working Sucks - Where does the money you spend come from? You or your folks working long
hours at a dehumanizing job, most likely. You don't have to compromise yourself and your humanity
to the evil demon of wage-slavery! Working sucks and if a little scavenging can keep you from
needing a job than go jump in a dumpster! Even if you do need to work to pay your bills, think about
how much less you would have to work if you didn't have to buy food.
Privilege - We, in America, have so much and so many people all over the world have so little. Why
do we have more? Because we're number one! Other folks are literally starving so that we can have
fully-stocked shelves at our supermarkets and health food stores. If this concerns you (as it should)
you can protest the unbalanced distribution in America and the world by sacrificing some of your
privilege and feeding yourself off of the ridiculous excess of food instead of consuming products from
that supermarket shelves we are so injustly privileged to have access to.
The Ultimate Boycott - By not consuming, you are boycotting EVERYTHING! All the corporations,
all the stores, all the pesticides, all the land and resources wasted, the capitalist system, the
all-oppressive dollar, the wage slavery, the whole burrito! That should help you get to sleep at night.
Your Life - Think about how your life is wrapped up in the game of consumptions: think about the
job you hate, the ugly billboards in your community, the horrible waste, the stink, the fast pace and
lack of compassion that surround you and understand that as you consume it, it consumes you.
How much of your day is spent dealing with money? How does money affect your ideas about other
people? Think abut howmuch more to life there is and find it, do it, go!
Criticism of Veganism:
The vegan theory is essentially a boycott of any products that injure animals in their production. The
vegan consumers are flexing their monetary muscle and "voting with their dollars" for the products
that don't injure animals. These dollars are voting for coca-cola, big corporate grocery stores,
greasy-fast food (we all know taco bell vegans), and worse. Shouldn't truly conscientious folks seek
something more? I don't vote because no matter who I vote for, the government always wins and
when you "vote with yur dollars", consumerism always wins, capitalism always wins. So.... make a
list of allt he unethical practices that really piss you off and make a list of all the corporations and
products you want to boycott. Veganism is a good first step, but is your only concern animals? I
made this list and when I was done, I couldn't really justify buying anthing, I couldn't get behind any
aspect of the corporate death consumer machine so I decided to boycott everything. I still spend
money sometimes (I love gonig out for Thai food) but I try to be very conscientious about my
consumption. Besides the concern that veganism as an ethic for eating stops short, it is also still a
very high impact lifestyle. The packaging from vegan food doesn't take up less space in the landfill or
consume less resources just cause the food is vegan. The whole produce and consume dynamic is
still played out, but the setting is a fancy health food store instead of a supermarket. veganism is not a
threat, or a challenge to the wasteful practices of our capitalist society.
Freeganism, also known as ethical eating, voluntary simplicity, monetary minimalism, the ultimate
boycott, etc is fun and easy. Here are some basic tips:
Quality of Food - Freegans wiely vary in their concern for health - some freegans gorge themselves
on dumpstered donuts and some are still totally vegan, but get all their food for free. Most fall in te
happy medium who would rather eat a load of bread with whey in it than make a $2 donation to the
corporate death machine. Some freegans eat "edgy" food (on the edge of edibility_ and some don't
take chances. Some folks are even "meagan" - they eat meat if they get it for free.
Quantity of Food - A lot, everywhere. You have all seen that Food Not Bombs flyer about how
many million pounds of food is wasted, well it is true. The food is plentiful. The food is good.
Dumpster Driving! - The best, easiest way to to get the most food. Just head to your local grocery
store, produce store, bagel and donut shop, bakery, K-mart (expired shelf goodies), and open up
the dumpster and take a look. Don't be afraid to climb in and dig around! have fun, go with your
friends! If you just find a big, scary compactor behind the store (a bunch of big supermarkets haev
these) you can't get in, but you can fight back. Start a local DLF (Dumpster Liberation Front!) and
stick it to those compactors: superglue them so they don't work or hit them a bat or pee on them or
pain them up; have fun - compactors are the enemy. P.S. Food is not the only thing in dumpsters!
Give-Aways! - A lot of small, independent places and even some bigger stores will give you food
they are about to throw out if you just ask them for it. Also, free lunches and soup kitchens! Make
sure you aren't taking food from someone who really need it if you don't but mostplaces have a lot of
extra to go around. If yuo can get government food or food stamps, go for it! Go to Food Not
Bombs and help out, then take some retra soup and bagels for the road... Just don't be afraid to ask
and the food will come to you.
Plate scraping/Table-Diving - Go in a restuarant and either ask a worker if you can eat plate scraps
or just sit with a drink and hop upand grab plates off talbes when diners leave and finish off what
they left. In fast food places you canpull half-drunked sodas and half-eaten orders of french fries out
of the trash. Me and my dear sweet friend Peter once sat in Denny's for hours eating table dives.
After awhile, diners would intentionally leave food on their plates for us or actually bring left-overs to
our table. If a waitress/waiter lets this go on, leave a tip! I have heard stories of plate-scrapers in the
mall food court getting offered money to buy some food- free cash if you want to work the pity. It is
possible that you will get harassed and kicked out so this method is not fool-proof.
Wild foraging/Gardening - Get a book on edible plants and start looking around; there is a lot more
edible food growing all around us than we realize. Also, if you live down the street from orange and
grapefruit vines, don't buy oranges and grapefruit! If you live down in West Palm Beach, don't buy
cans of coconut milk for Thai curry. Learn what grows in your area and find it or plant it. you can
start your own garden in your yard or in that empty lot up the street. You don't need a lot of land of
gourmet soil,just some dirt. Maybe your city even has a community garden and you and your friends
could geta plit. For seeds, remember all those great fruits and veggies you just dumpster-dove? Plant
the seeds and stick the bad parts, stems and excess in a pile outside with some dirt. As the plant
matter decomposes it will be magically transformed into super-rich compost, which makes a great
fertilizer. Your newly planted seeds will be thrilled.
Barter - Set up a local network that trades and/or shares goods and services. "I'll give you my extra
tend pounds of brocilli if you fix my bike." "Hey dudes! Feast at my house! We made a great find
and I love sharing the wealth of the dumpster!"
Scams/Shoplifting - There are a slew of shady ways to score free food...always let your consious
be yuor guide!
Shoplifting - There is some debate over how freegan this really is because you are still creating an
empty shelf that must be restocked, but it is more reegan than forking over big bucks. This is a more
direct attack on the store selling the goods, not the producer (unles you hyper-boycott a product:
pick something you can't stand and consistently get it off the shelves, steal it, break it, hide it, just
eliminate it and the store will eventually stop selling it) so you should consider if you are putting a ma
& pa organic veggie stand our of business or just chipping away at a corporate giant.
Employee Theft - Some folks believe this to be more ethical than shoplifting because it is a trade-off:
they steal your time and energy and you steal their food. If you work somewhere that sucks, hook
yourself up, hook up your friends, hook up strangers, hook up your local FNB! I have heard tales of
a kid who feeds a three-person household of his workplace acquisitions from the health food store.
They eat damn good, too! Yuo can also get the insider scoop and may be able to intercept food
headed for the dumpster.
Returns - Example: we just dove a bunch of jars of mayonnaise. We don't want to eat it, so we
return it to the store, say we bought it and couldn't use it/don't want it and trade it in for cash or good
food or store credit. Some stores throw away anything that is returned that costs less than $50, so
you can find expensive stuff, in a package, with a receipt!
Extending the Ethic - Withdrawl from the consumer death culture doesn't have to end with
Energy - Use solar energy, make a solar oven, hang our wash on a line, don't use the air conditioner
or heater when you can put on/take off clothes, open a window or use a fanm, wash your dishes by
hand - dishwashers consume a lot of energy and water, turn off lights when you aren't using them.
Water - Don't shower often and when you do, instead of showering, "go swimming" in the shower
with a friend - it is fun, explorative, liberating, and consumes less water! Don't flush when you pee! If
won't hurt you, pee just sits in the toilet not bothering anyone; it doesn't warrant the 10 gallons per
flush just to get rid of it. Wait until you get a good healthy poop in there and then flush it all away. If
you don't like the smell of pee stagnating in the toilet, pee outside our dilute your urine (7 water to 1
pee) and fertilize withit or drink it (Gandhi drank a cup of his own pee every day). Also, you can
make manure out of your own poop! Or... dumpster dive some adult diapers and have a party
where everyone straps one on and fills it up -no water wasted.
Carlessness - cars are gross and expensiev, not to mention the gas companies, who are as evil as
can be (look at Iraq, do you really want to fund the slaughter of innocent people?). Ride a bike or a
bus or put a bike on the bus or hitchhike or walk or rollerskate or canoe or skateboad or hop a train
or if you are gonna use a car than carpool, for Pete's sake! Or have 10 people split the cost of a
community car that you allshare. Or at least convert your engine to run on recycled vegetable oil.
(Yes, this can be done!)
Homebrew - Don't buy alcohol! Alcohol corporations are big and scary and perpetuate fucked up
gender roles and beauty myths with their advertising. Brew your own wine and beer!
Get a Cup! - Get a big, durable plastic cup with a lid and a fork or spoon and carry if with you at all
times. This will dramatically reduce the amount of disposable silverware and
bowls/plates/cups/bottles you consume. Instead of buying a bottle of beverage, fill up your cup with
water. Eat out of it too. If yuo get on the seals, you can take home restaurant leftovers in it instead of
Get a Hanky! - Carry a handkerchief with you and you won't need tissues or paper towels and it is
handy to have for spills, tears etc.
Squat - If you can live in an abandoned building for free, do it!
Stretch - Stretch what you have! Before you throw something away, ask yourself (repeatedly) "will I
ever use this for anything? Do I know anyone who will?". Before you buy anything figure out if you
can make it, borrow it, do without, fix the one you already have or get it for free somehow. How
long will it last, how often will it get used, can you share it with others, can you recycle it or reuse it
when it stops working? If it costs $5, ask yourself if it is worth an hour of your life. If not, do without
it. Repair your clothes, buy second-hand, share! Fix old stuff instead of buying new stuff. Learning
how to fix things yourself saves you money and brings independence and self-reliance. Free yourself
from the consumer mindset - the solution to all your problems can not be found at the shopping mall!
There are two options for existence: 1) waste your life working to get money to buy things that you
don't need and help destroy the environment or 2) live a full satisfying life, occasionally scavenging or
working your self-sufficiency skills to get the food and stuff you need to be content, while treading
lightly on the earth, eliminating waste, and boycotting everything. Go!
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