Food Waste A Dumpster Diver's Haul

Published on January 11th, 2013 | by Mary Gerush

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Food Waste + Dumpster Divers + Chef = Inspiration





A Dumpster Diver's Haul

“The food that we throw away in Europe would be enough twice to feed all the hungry of the world.”

This is the nugget (loosely translated from German to English by Google Translate, but without loss of meaning or passion!) that sets the stage for an Austrian reality show, Waste Cooking, on spinning straw — food waste — into delicious gold.

I usually find it tough to sit and watch videos — too busy and too much info to process. (I know I’m not alone!) But I adore these European dumpster-diving activitists who roam the city rescuing perfectly edible food from trash bins. The dialog of their videos is German; I watch them anyway. I can understand a lot of what they say, because their actions speak volumes! They’re running around in the dark, head lamps illuminating the trash bins, elbow deep in crap!

And o’ the treasures they unearth…

In episode one, they save dozens of unblemished tomatoes, carefully wrapped fennel, many bags of carrots, a beautiful eggplant, and whole onions from a certain trip to the landfill. The “waste” makes its way to food blogger and chef Tobi who cooks in an open plaza, lovingly preparing fennel in a white wine and cream reduction paired with fried polenta and a fresh ratatouille. Now for the fun part: As passers-by sample the dishes, they also learn where the food comes from. (Ha!) They get punked, fed, and educated on food waste all at the same time.

Americans waste 40% of the food we produce, and recent books, like American Wasteland and documentaries, like Dive! have tried to inspire us as a country to address this dilemma. Waste Cooking shows us we’re not alone — the issue is global. And these Austrians are doing something about it!

The team has also produced an English-subtitled short film, Days To Trash, that highlights what they’re all about. Take 11 minutes and 8 seconds out of your day to get to know them. Then go watch their videos, share their stories, and borrow their recipes. And don’t forget to say “danke schoen” by minding the foods you toss!

Image Credit and Inspiration: www.wastecooking.com

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About the Author

Hi all! I'm Mary Gerush - a recovering corporate worker bee turned good-farm-real-food advocate and writer who wants to help people understand what they're eating. I tend a tiny urban farm in Dallas, TX, and hope to scale up one day soon. Omnivore through-and-through, there's not much I love to eat more than a butter-basted grass fed steak fresh from a searing hot cast iron skillet. Follow me on , , and !



  • narf7

    Excellent! Brings out the packrat in me ;). So much good food gets wasted when there are so many hungry people that as much of it as possible should be being detoured from landfill and used to feed the hungry. I admire these guys immensely…putting their actions where their mouths are and showing people that food isn’t politically correct, it is vital to our survival and what we choose to do with it as a civilisation may just be the turning point in our future. Cheers for sharing this really fun, interesting and important post with us all. I just shared it on my FB page I thought it was so important :)

  • Kelsey

    Here in Omaha, NE, we have a ‘Plant Rescue’, it’s a non-profit organization and the founder will go around to different grocery stores and take their unwanted, “unsellable” produce that would otherwise be thrown away and redistributes it, whatever is not used at the end of the day goes to the homeless shelters. It’s really cool! It’s amazing seeing what the grocery stores just throw away, if it has a bruise or is wilty or if it is close to the expiration date, they just toss it. What a waste!

  • AEM

    It’s also a huge money savings if we keep from tossing food.

  • Mary Gerush

    Hi all. Thanks for the comments! I hope you’ll watch some of their videos. They are just cute – and you’re right narf7 – putting their actions where their moths are. Cool stuff!

  • Mary Gerush

    Mouths, not moths (although I’m sure they come across lots of moths…:-))

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