As a kid growing up in the ’70s, I thought my parents were weird. My dad wore Birkenstocks and my mom did yoga and carried canvas tote bags instead of a purse. (Still does.) We baked our own bread and reused plastic bags. And now, what do you know? Everyone’s all about organic everything and saving the environment. My parents weren’t weird, they were just ahead of their time! (Somewhere, they’re gloating.)
The thing about trends is, someone’s always gotta take it up a notch. I was catching up on some Tivo’ed episodes of Oprah the other night and caught her show on “freegans.” Huh? Wikipedia defines “freeganism” as “an anti-consumerism lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.”
Translation: they get their food from dumpsters. Or at least that’s the part Oprah focused on.
No, not gross, moldy, half-eaten food. Packaged stuff like frozen pizza and sealed bags of organic broccoli that grocery stores throw away because it’s nearing its expiration date or is slightly bruised. Most of the stuff they showed looked better than what’s currently in my fridge. Stores can’t give it to homeless shelters because of regulations and lawsuits. So they chuck it. And these freegans -- who, BTW, usually have perfectly good jobs and homes -- rescue it from the dumpster and serve it up for dinner. OK. I’m as frugal and Earth-friendly as the next gal, but that’s taking it a little far, no?
I’m not above supermarket freebies, though, which is how Miles and I found ourselves at Whole Foods this morning with my friend T. and her son. They have this kids’ club thing where they read some stories, give the kids bunny ears and a bag, and then send them off to collect free samples in each department. As T. said, it’s like trick-or-treating for groceries.
In the dairy section, they gave the kids a piece of string cheese. At the deli, it was some applesauce. At the bakery, it was a mini cupcake. In the produce section, we couldn’t find anyone, so we helped ourselves to an organic banana. Meanwhile, Miles was running amuck in the store, fueled by frosting. I turned my back for a second and he was gone. GONE. A very surprised-looking employee walked him out from behind the customer service desk a minute later.
As fun as this little adventure was, I couldn’t bear trying to do my grocery shopping on top of it. Guess your consumeristic plan backfired, Whole Foods. Or Whole Paycheck, as one friend likes to call it. Wouldn’t you know, it’s located right next to Fourbucks -- um, Starbucks. Convenient, eh? Last week T. bought ingredients for an organic veggie lasagna that came to $35. For that price, she could’ve paid a babysitter AND gone out to lunch!!
As we were leaving, I passed an employee tearing the covers off stacks of magazines to make room for the next month’s issues. “Are you throwing those out?” I asked. “Can I take some?” He reluctantly handed over a copy of Natural Health. Damn. If that’s what they’re throwing away inside, maybe I should’ve checked the dumpster on my way out.
TIP O’ THE WEEK: Gleaned from the pages of my free magazine: dark chocolate is a natural cough suppressant. Who knew?