My experience with dumpster diving

There have been a couple of times in my career that I’ve come across a subculture.

The first was right back when I began: people who would write to me about my … feet. Yep, that’s a thing. Some people get their socks off looking at bare feet in the newspaper.

The other was a few weeks ago when I got a question from uni student Tim, who said he ‘dumpster dived’ for food.

I thought he was joking … yet little did I know that I was myself about to get binned like a bent banana.

The email responses came in like two-day-old loaves of bread:

“Dude, you don’t know what dumpster diving is? I earn $180,000 a year, and yet on my days off I go to the local Woolies bin around midnight for all the eggs, bread, pink milk (not expired), and slightly spoiled but still good fruit and veges.” (This person signed off as ‘Dumpster Diving Till I Die’, which may be tempting fate.)

As I dived into the subject, I discovered that the devotees of this movement even have a name: ‘freegans’.

Yet my favourite freegan was Benjamin, aka ‘Binjamin the Raccoon’, who wrote: “I live almost entirely out of rescued food from the bin (plus some home-grown veg). Every day, I systematically take all the food from two dumpsters and distribute it out to feed probably 20 struggling families per week, as well as bread for farmers’ livestock.”

Okay, so that’s actually pretty cool.

So this week I grabbed my five-year-old son and we went dumpster diving at the back of an inner city KFC — “It’s finger-lickin’ good, mate!”

Okay, so we didn’t do that. (My wife doesn’t allow us to eat KFC, let alone from a dumpster.)

Yet we did go on a father-son trip to Australia’s largest hunger relief not-for-profit, Foodbank, who each month help feed over 700,000 Aussies.

The reason I had my son come along was twofold: first, he loves factories, forklifts and donning high-vis vests. Yet, more importantly, it was also my first step in a long journey to making sure he doesn’t become an entitled brat.

And Foodbank is an awesome way to teach kids one of the fundamental keys to happiness: generosity.

See, the hidden crisis in this country is that one in five kids live in ‘food insecure’ households.

No, it’s true.

That explains why in Victoria they are expanding the ‘Breakfast Club’ program to be in 1,000 schools.

On our way to the factory I asked my son if he remembered what it feels like to be hungry.

“Yes, it’s hard to think, and I get angry because I have a sore tummy”, he said.

“Well chances are that some of your classmates arrive at school with those tummy rumbles. You can’t see it, of course, and your mates may be too embarrassed to talk about it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening”, I said.

Then I explained that he could help these kids by buying food, and having Foodbank deliver it.

It was like seeing a lightbulb go off in his little head: he got it.

Even better, he’d brought along his Give jar and proudly gave some of his pocket money.

Now that’s a subculture I’m proud to be part of.

Tread Your Own Path!