There were hundreds upon hundreds of questions and comments generated by the HuffPost Food article published on Thursday, July 28. I'm answering them in a series of entries, each addressing a different recurring question/comment. Please keep in mind that I do not (can not) represent the whole of the freegan population. I represent only myself and my own views/motivations/concerns. 

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First things first. Let's nail down this "freeganism" business. What IS freeganism and what exactly is a freegan?

I was a little annoyed that the image at the top of the HuffPost article is that of a presumably young person doubled over into a large dumpster. 

1) That image is not of me.

2) Though I am not opposed or averse to diving in this manner, this is not how "dumpster diving" is typically practiced in NYC. 

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The simple fact is that such dumpsters are quite rare in the city. Grocery stores, delis, bakeries, and pharmacies typically leave their trash bags in piles on the curbside, right in front of the store. We do not dig through municipal trash, leftovers, or rat-infested-anything. On the contrary, the food that we rescue in NYC is quite clean, healthy, nutritious, delicious, and often sealed, shrink-wrapped, or otherwise still in its original packaging!

That being said, it is also important to acknowledge that freeganism is not merely dumpster-diving, and dumpster-diving is not necessarily inspired by a freegan worldview. Many people living in abject poverty eat trash not because they are reacting to a capitalist, corporatist, consumerist economic system that they regard as exploitative and immoral. They do so because they are helplessly poor, starving, and have no other choice. 

Freegans on the other hand generally do have other options. They are typically not financially forced into a freegan lifestyle, it is rather their own economic and ethical choice (read my blog entry from Thursday to get a grasp on why I became a freegan myself). But freeganism does not pertain only to the ways in which one acquires food. We consider bicycling, gardening, composting, reusing, couch surfing, and recycling as other means of living out the freegan way. Basically - any activity that consciously minimizes waste and avoids consumption could be considered freegan. Note that it's the consciousness that makes the real difference.

Some more extreme freegan practices might include squatting, hitch hiking, freight hopping, and/or refusing work. I'm certainly interested in these and have dabbled in some, but perhaps the one that most disturbed my week-in-the-life readers was my refusing work in the form of a conventional job. Instead, I spend my time busking, creating, engaging in activism, or volunteering. 

The assumption by many was that I must be a drain on society if I'm not earning my keep. The fact is that I earn enough money busking and doing odd jobs here and there to pay my minimal expenses. Any other needs or wants are met by the communities I serve: my church, the freegan.info group, the gym and book store. I do not have health insurance, but I've been fit as a fiddle for years and years. If ever I feel under the weather, I self-medicate. I've only seen a physician once in the past four years, and this was very recent. The prognosis: I'm fit approximately as a fiddle. Commenters have speculated that surely I'm sick and/or I'll be a drain on society when I become so. I hate to pop their Tea bubbles, but I've been eating this way for over a year and a half and I seem to be doing A-OK! So no, I wouldn't say I'm much of a drain on society at all. I certainly give much more to society, free of charge, than I take out.

Indeed, I decided last November that I no longer wished to sell my time, my effort, my art. I refused to continue regarding these as commodities. How could I put a price tag on that which I regarded as priceless? I began teaching Really Really Free Guitar Lessons. It's been all downhill from there. I frequently offer my music for free download online, play free shows wherever I go, volunteer my time and service wherever I'm needed, and I hardly ever charge. The real kicker and perhaps the part that most confused my readers: I don't expect anything back from society. 

Here's the thing. Ultimately, I'm not doing this for society. I'm not doing it for the planet and I'm not doing it to be a "good" person, whatever that means. I only hope to obey my conscience, to obey God. I trust that God will provide my needs in return, especially through the generosity of my friends, family, and supporters. 

S/he has been very faithful thus far.


If you have further questions or comments on this particular issue, then I encourage you to subscribe to this blog, where I frequently discuss freeganism, busking, volunteering and where I continually learn how and why to reject the global economic empire whose idealogical cornerstones are exploitation and greed and to submit instead to a God whose kingdom is built on peace, justice, and generosity.
 



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