Dumpster Divers Against Bush: 'World News' Showcases Freeganism

     Prepare to be thoroughly disgusted: people are actually digging through businesses' garbage to dine on discarded food – all to make an anti-business statement.


     Madeline Nelson, an executive-turned-freegan, was featured on the December 16 “World News Sunday” in a bizarre human interest segment. The segment showed Nelson serving a four-course meal, which included a mixed green salad, stuffed peppers, and a tofu cheesecake with strawberries.


     “The grocery bill for such an elaborate feast? Zero,” said ABC correspondent Ryan Owens. “That’s because this food doesn't come from inside a store, but outside of it.”    


     “Outside of it” as in the store’s garbage. No, it isn’t a homeless person down on his luck. It’s anti-capitalist people practicing what is known as freeganism and doing so to make an ideological statement. Owens accompanied a group of freegans, led by Nelson, who went through various businesses’ dumpsters in the borough of Brooklyn.

     According to freegan.info:

“The word freegan is compounded from ‘free’ and ‘vegan’. Vegans are people who avoid products from animal sources or products tested on animals in an effort to avoid harming animals. Freegans take this a step further by recognizing that in a complex, industrial, mass-production economy driven by profit, abuses of humans, animals, and the earth abound at all levels of production (from acquisition to raw materials to production to transportation) and in just about every product we buy.”

     The conclusion? “Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able,” the Web site said.

     While making a cheesecake with tofu salvaged from the garbage might seem disgusting to most people, Nelson disagreed.

     “I'd say what's gross and disgusting is the fact that this food is being thrown out in the first place,” said Nelson. “What's really disgusting is the system that allows this waste to happen.”


     The “system” Nelson referred to is a capitalist economy. But she didn’t stop there.


     “I just started looking at the state of the U.S. and the state of the world, and thinking, ‘what the hell am I doing here? What am I doing? Global warming is happening, there’s war in Iraq, Bush is out of control, and here I am, working at a corporation to help a company sell more stuff,’” Nelson said to ABC News in a supplemental online story.


     After the segment, ABC “World News Sunday” anchor Dan Harris said, “We present all sides here.”


     Not quite. No businesspeople were included in the segment. The story didn’t explore the fact that the food wouldn’t be available in the dumpsters if not for the businesses involved.


     And some business owners don’t want to liable for what they throw out, in the event the product is not fit for human consumption. There are also the physical dangers of going through the dumpster itself.


     “We throw out our excess product, which is doughnuts,” said Nels Lebansky, the manager of Greenbush Baker in Madison, Wis., to the July 23 (Madison, Wis.) Capital Times. “We’ve always had problems with dumpsters. My concern is a lawsuit. You don’t want a box of our stuff that’s a week old to be out in public.”


     In August 2006, The Washington Post featured a similar one-sided anti-capitalist, pro-freegan story without advising readers of the dangers of this strange anti-consumerist activity.