Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Edgy Green Freegan Movement Takes Root In NoMi...

Photos By John Hoff

For political, social, moral and environmental reasons, "freegans" like to avoid paying for food whenever possible. Many freegans are vegetarian or "vegan," but some freegans (such as myself) think it's "morally pure" to eat meat as long as you yourself didn't buy it, such as pork chops that get pulled out of a store fridge and put in a nice clean cardboard box and gently, lovingly placed in a dumpster two hours before they actually expire. THAT kind of meat.

(For the record, I eat morally impure meat as well, but I consider it an ongoing spiritual failure which accumulates what may be described, in a vague non-Hindu way, as "bad karma.")

In any case, due to the outrageous waste habits of our society (yes, even during a so-called recession) all kinds of valuable stuff just gets thrown away. Because of how much is wasted, dumpster diving is not the desperate, filthy little world most Americans assume it to be at first glance. On the contrary, it is the doorway to a lifestyle of "shabby chic" luxury, with very little impact on the earth.

Read my two books on the subject of dumpster diving to learn more: The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving and Dumpster Diving: The Advanced Course, both by John HOFFMAN. (Note pen name)

But don't run right out and buy those books. Geez, that's what LIBRARIES are for.

Anyway, as the author of two seminal books on dumpster diving, (I was a famous cult author in my late 20s) I lay claim to being one of the "intellectual grand daddies of the freegan movement." My book, The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving, is cited by most freegans as central to their outlook and lifestyle. Years before I met Connie Nompelis--Realtor and historic house preservationist--she had read both my books. Somehow we both ended up in NoMi where, from time to time, we take off in her vehicles and go dumpster diving together.

I won't say where. Maybe Wisconsin, maybe Canada, who knows?

Some of my freegan friends like...

...Karl Noyes have been hanging around, lately, scoping out the situation in NoMi, contemplating the possibility of buying property and moving here. Karl Noyes helps me with technical junk on this website--like putting in the PayPal button--and he used to be my editor at the Minnesota Daily. Karl converts diesel vehicles to run on used cooking oil. He's very cool.

In North Minneapolis, I've had discussions with virtually all my friends about freeganism, even if it's something as simple as picking up a roasted marshmallow Peep which has fallen on the grass, and saying, "This would have been discarded. That makes it Freegan food, so I will eat it. It's a political and spiritual thing with me. I am a freegan."

Of course, freeganism isn't merely about food choices. All kinds of lifestyle choices are associated with freeganism, most of which involve NOT PAYING MONEY FOR STUFF.

Freeganism is constantly part of my life and, actually, this is one of the reasons I came hunting for a house in North Minneapolis: so I could dig in, get stability, do more writing, and keep developing the loosey-goosey tenants of freeganism, among other things I enjoy writing about.

But that's a different tale for a different day. The point is I haven't written a whole lot about freeganism on this blog because it's not very North Minneapolis related, except among me and some of my closest friends who happen to be from or around North Minneapolis. And even constant dumpster diving doesn't mean one self-identifies as a freegan. I'm not sure if Connie would call herself a freegan. And it's not important enough to ask. Freegan is as freegan DIVES.

But then two things happened recently and I said to myself, "This is something you need to write about more often. Not later, but NOW."

First, Connie and I made a huge score on Arizona iced tea. That night we had a discussion about starting a "freegan food bank" to attract graduate students to North Minneapolis, students that might buy homes, have families, and fill NoMi with their environmental edgy coolness. (And it wasn't like Connie said, "Oh, yeah, let's do that" because THAT is a lot of work, after all, but rather we just kicked around the idea)

Some days after the "Arizona tea score" with Connie I gave most of the tea to to Karl Noyes, because I had way too much of it and it was going to make me gain weight, and I also gave Karl a bunch of canned food somebody just boxed up and left in an alley after a vacant, foreclosed house had been "trashed out." And I thought to myself, "Geez, I just gave Karl all this dumpster dived and foreclosed food. Isn't that the freegan food bank vision I talked about with Connie?"

On that same successful dive which turned up all the Arizona tea, Connie managed to score three rose bushes, which she planted in front of her house in (wait for it...wait for it...) NORTH MINNEAPOLIS.

A few days ago I was doing some yard work over there--cutting out some brush I nicknamed "The Witchy Thicket" and, like most of my nicknames, it stuck--and I noticed Connie had planted the dumpster dived rose bushes in front of her house.

So I snapped a picture.

And as I contemplated those rose bushes planted in front of Connie's house, I realized I could actually get on my blog and say, with a straight face, the freegan movement is taking root in NoMi.


Jeanie Hoholik said...

Is that Karl in the top picture?

Ranty said...

Those rosebushes were the single most delightful freebie-find EVER. (To me, anyway.)

I mean... they weren't DEAD.

They weren't even DAMAGED.

They are going to take root and thrive for years to come in my (formerly-slumlorded-crack-infested) home's front yard.


Anonymous said...

I have some chicken bones. You want them for soup?

Johnny Northside said...

Yes, Jeanie, that is Karl.

To Ranty: I can hardly wait to find out what COLOR they are, but I'll believe in their survival when I see it. Haven't had good luck with roses, personally.

To anonymous: Thank you, no. But if we were close friends, and you were sitting across from me eating chicken, and you just didn't clean up the bones very well...then the remaining meat would be "freegan" and my answer would be different.

To be freegan is not a burden. A freegan meal is a banquet for the soul. I happily and willingly and delightedly choose freegan food to other foods, when presented with a choice.

Thanks to Megan for the free food this morning, which actually also got me thinking about this post. You are a good friend and a high-quality person.

Ariah said...

I totally forgot you were a dumpstering grandmaster.

Just so you know, there are many more dumpsters in Nomi...

in solidarity.