Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

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Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Von Haus » Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:03 pm UTC

Wikipedia wrote:Dumpster diving (known as skipping in the UK) is the practice of sifting through commercial or residential trash to find items that have been discarded by their owners, but which may be useful to the dumpster diver.


While writing this I am enjoying a couple of slices of very nice sultana and cherry cake, one of the several we rescued from a skip behind a certain UK supermarket.
For lunch today I had a rather nice home made curry which contained chunks of a salami found in the same skip which was still perfectly sealed in its original packaging and also well within its use by date. Very tasty. In that one haul we also got many tubs of mini meringue nests, a large sack of bread, yoghurts, oranges, Strongbow cider, and a variety of other stuff enough to please the ten or so people who were there. (Turns out that was a popular night to go.)

The amount of perfectly edible food supermarkets throw away really is horrific, and all of it ends up in the landfill. In mid-October my housemate picked a multitude of packs of Fiendish Fancies (Halloween themed French Fancies) that had passed there sell-by date over a fortnight before Halloween. It's just ridiculous that supermarkets can produce this much waste and still price smaller sellers out of the market while also making huge profits themselves.

And an important point, we always leave the skip in the same, if not a better, state, than when we first open it. Bags are always resealed and no rubbish is left outside of the skip, even if there was some there before hand.

So, does anyone else skip? And if you either have or haven’t, do you have any tips, views or anecdotes on it?
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby PictureSarah » Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:46 pm UTC

When I lived in Cambridge (Massachusetts) above an Italian restaurant, I would see bags of sub sandwich rolls next to the dumpster behind our building. Sometimes I would rescue them, and we'd have a sub sandwich party. They were perfectly fine, and still in plastic bags. They always tasted good. I'm not sure why they were thrown out, really. I guess they must have been a day old or so.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:14 pm UTC

Dumpster Diving can actually have two meanings. Since we're talking food-related dumpster diving, I've never done that, due to potential health risks. I remember a co-worker at a lab my mom worked at would give her bakery stuffs that apparently were dumpster dived. Their expiration date would be a couple of days ago, but they still looked good. If they had mold, it was very small, and in most cases be cut off, and the rest of the food would be fine.

The other dumpster diving my dad has done, and I've done. When my dad worked for a landscape company back in the mid to late 80s, up until the mid-90s, he would often dumpster dive if he saw some nice piece of furniture he thought we could use. I once had a very comfy office chair from his dives, but it squeaked like hell when you sat in it, making it difficult to sit in it early in the morning. My parents threw it out when I moved out of their house back in 2000. When I was living with my roommate, I found a cedar chest that had a missing leg and a sagging bottom. Removed the other three legs, reinforced the bottom with plywood, scrubbed it down with Murphy's Oil Soap, put some casters on the bottom (to make it easier to move), and caulked along some of the seams. That was back in 2003. It is now sitting in my bedroom, and I keep all of my blankets and quilts in it.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Von Haus » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:24 am UTC

PatrickRsGhost wrote:Dumpster Diving can actually have two meanings.

That is true, as the food based one is the only one I ever really do I put it in here but if people want to broaden the topic I am sure it can be moved to a more relevant area. And good going with the chest, it sounds like a good find, and things being reclaimed maked me very happy. :D

That said there is a few differences in how I percieve the two, generalising here but I'd say skipping for food is something people are more likey to set out to do and for furniture and stuff is more opportunistic, as in seeing something in a skip that has use to them and going and getting it. But then I'm currently in a student house and we don't really need or have space for more furniture, so if I saw something good I'd probably pick it up, but I wouldn't go out specifically looking for furniture. Food on the other hand, well, that is always welcome and I quite like the flexibility it forces on me for making stuff and also the variety it brings to my diet. Strangely the day comic 854 came out, was the day I decided to make myself cook more, I only realised the link that evening.

Went skipping again last night with a housemate. Two ginster pasties, one day past sell-by, two differnt types of sliced chicken, one cheap one good quality, both just past sell-by, 4 Innocent smoothies, in date and sealed, I still can't figure out why there were chucked.., 18 cans of diet coke and pepsi from multi packs as one or two in each pack were damaged. I don't actually drink either, so as he's a vegie I was more than happy to let him have them in exchange for the pasties and chicken, and here's the bit that absolutely made my night; 8 bottles of in-date Bombadier Ale. A truck driver was parked nearby while we were doing all this and upon seeing the shear amount of stuff we were getting from the skip came over to exclaim how shocked he was by the supermarket's waste. We gave him a bottle of the ale as we kind of want to make people a) more accepting of skippers and b) more aware of the wastefulness.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Bakemaster » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:34 am UTC

Movie theaters usually throw out all their popcorn every night. If you're seeing a late show that gets out after the lobby closes, but the theater lets patrons out through the lobby, you can often ask about it and get a giant bag full of popcorn.

One time my roommates got a haul of donuts from a Dunkin Donuts. There were some muffins, too. It wasn't a 24/7 location so none of the food was from before that morning (and most of it undoubtedly fresher). The only downside was that they had just thrown the contents of their trays right into a big bag, and so the only thing separating one donut from another was sometimes the paper liner from the bottom of the tray... Jelly donut integrity was occasionally breached... We didn't care, we weren't going to eat 15-20 gallons of donuts and muffins in any case.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby The Milkman » Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:47 pm UTC

Can someone explain exactly how this works, because I continue to conjure up an image in my head of a person rifling through a dumpster and getting really dirty.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Virtual_Aardvark » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:36 am UTC

I've never skipped per say. But at both my cafe jobs I always took it upon myself to rescue any pastries, sandwiches, leftover cups of (hot) coffee and such. Either me and my friends would eat them or I'd distribute it all to the local homeless. It makes no sense to me to throw out a perfectly good scone because it's a day old. I guess you could say I was proto-skipping?

EDIT: I guess I sort of have but I'm not sure that it counts when I was sleeping on the street. Desperation doesn't seem to be the driving force here.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Von Haus » Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:27 pm UTC

The Milkman wrote:Can someone explain exactly how this works, because I continue to conjure up an image in my head of a person rifling through a dumpster and getting really dirty.


Well, dumpsters aren't really always that dirty, or as full as you're probably imagining. For example the one where I got all the beer from, well, basically it's a 3 meter square orange steel box with a two big flaps for the lid, we lift them up so they're out of the way and turn on our head torches to have a look inside.
Inside we see maybe a meter deep of clear plastic bin bags filled with various stuff, some can be reached from the outside so we pick them out and have a look inside, getting a general idea of the contents through the clear plastic and if there's anything of interest in there carefully untying the top (not ripping) and taking it our for a closer look. The veg bags weusually avoid as they've invariably got tomatoes in them which have invariablly squashed so opening them would be a bit messy but the dry packaged stuff is basically no different into reaching into a carrier back after coming back from the supermarket on a normal shopping trip. Once the ones easily in reach have been looked at it's not hard to jump up onto the rim o fthe dumpster and drop inside, I'm light and there is usually solid packaging (boxes, plastic trays and crates, whatever) to stand on and basically move around inside (wearing suitable footwear, a pair army surplus boots in my case), any likely looking bag is passed out for my friend not in the skip to have a look at, so not really rifling, more lifting a bag, looking at it, then passing it out of the skip or putting it back in an area already searched and moving on, once any likely bags are removed I hop out, and we begin to look through them, there's usually a bag of day old bread and the rest can really be anything which is part of the excitement, usually there lots of one thing though, one day there were about 10 cherry cakes and a simialr number of tubs of meringues, as well as other stuff in smaller quantities. Good packaged stuff is put to one side, and the rest of the stuff we don't want is put back in the plastic bin bags, they're tied up and placed back in the skip, the lid is closed, we bag up whatever we've salvaged in tough plastic carrier bags we brough with us, and head home.

The sleeping on the street thing would count as skipping too I'd say, it's still much the same action, just a different, as you say, motivation.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby drkslvr » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:21 am UTC

In the area I live in all of the grocery stores have their dumpsters sealed and locked to prevent exactly what you're describing. They can only be accessed from inside the store. Maybe it's a US vs UK thing? We tend to thrive on being wasteful... and litigious. Maybe the stores are protecting themselves from lawsuits.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby _Axle_ » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:53 am UTC

drkslvr wrote:In the area I live in all of the grocery stores have their dumpsters sealed and locked to prevent exactly what you're describing. They can only be accessed from inside the store. Maybe it's a US vs UK thing? We tend to thrive on being wasteful... and litigious. Maybe the stores are protecting themselves from lawsuits.


Don't want to steer the topic too far off...
I am not sure if you are in the US or the UK or somewhere else, but I know in the US... private business's try to keep their dumpsters locked to prevent others from dumping their garbage in it. People dump all sorts of stuff that would cost extra money to take away from regular weekly street collection.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:45 pm UTC

drkslvr wrote:In the area I live in all of the grocery stores have their dumpsters sealed and locked to prevent exactly what you're describing. They can only be accessed from inside the store. Maybe it's a US vs UK thing? We tend to thrive on being wasteful... and litigious. Maybe the stores are protecting themselves from lawsuits.
Many locations in the US have laws against this sort of thing (That is : removing trash from another person/business's trash receptacles). How strictly said laws are enforced is often left up to the cops more than anything. Even then, I think the laws are in place to prevent The Homeless and other Unsavory Sorts from wandering around the nice parts of town.

There may also be some litigation fear there, but I can't think of any case nor find any off the top of Google to the effect of a business being sued over someone getting sick from eating trash from their dumpster... nor can I see any Judge seriously hearing such a case (Lemme get this straight.. you ate food from the trash, got sick, and now want to sue? GTFO.) so I don't think that's really a logical fear.

... all that being said, let's not bog this down with the legality of it. Check your local laws, some places are perfectly fine with it, some places are nice enough to set the Good Stuff aside because even though they don't sell it, they don't want people getting sick by mixing it with the other crap they're tossing... and some places will throw you in jail for the night. Let's keep this discussion on how to do it and make sure you don't get sick, not how to do it and not get caught.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Coffee » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:34 pm UTC

I work in information/network security, so when I encounter the phrase "dumpster diving" something quite different from food comes to mind. I'mna go oil our paper shredder now...
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Mar 11, 2011 4:26 am UTC

This is the Food Forum. If Dumpster Diving has a different meaning to you, that's neat. Keep it to yourself.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Coffee » Fri Mar 11, 2011 8:07 am UTC

Quite right, quite right. In that case, does intercepting food before it's tossed count?
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Von Haus » Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:41 pm UTC

Coffee wrote:Quite right, quite right. In that case, does intercepting food before it's tossed count?


Yeah, I'd say count it, it's getting use of what would otherwise be waste food which is basically the skipping ethos. It was the reducing waste thing that first drew me to skipping, though recently budgetry concers have also been a motivational factor.

Annoyingly the co-op which used to be our main source has replaced there old large skip with a load of smaller lockable skips. So at cost to themselves they have stopped us from reducing the waste they produce, this irks me, it's not good business and it's not good ethically, it's just daft. I have no problem with companies locking their skips, but to go out and buy new ones for it just seems even more wasteful than the vast quantities of waste they already produced. We're going to have to find somewhere else now, I have no idea where.

On the plus side I did find a bag of empty wine bottles that had been left next to them so they've been cleaned and put to good use holding my home-made drink.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby PAstrychef » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:44 pm UTC

Perhaps they became concerned about liability issues. You could try talking to them, and seeing they would donate to your "food pantry". You could probably set one up fairly easily, and if it only supports you, then it's a very limited charity, that's all.
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Strongbow cider

Postby OllieGarkey » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:10 pm UTC

Now that I know that they throw out cider (which doesn't get skunky like beer) you bet I'll be rolling up behind some grocery stores looking for decent booze.

I wouldn't trust anything else.

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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby charolastra » Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:47 pm UTC

I've never done it myself, but I've been provided food via those means. One of my favorites was when I was in London and went to a radical Jewish event where they skipped a Kosher bakery and I got a ton of really delicious free rugelach that was probably fresh as of the morning. Om nom.

I won't due it now due to my diminished immune system (as in I can't even eat things a day past their "sell by" date) but I always keep an eye out walking home for places that might have food out to let others know.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Silas » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:06 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:Perhaps they became concerned about liability issues. You could try talking to them, and seeing they would donate to your "food pantry". You could probably set one up fairly easily, and if it only supports you, then it's a very limited charity, that's all.

That sounds like a dubiously-legal tax shelter. Even if you scrupulously report all those donations as income, like you're supposed to, the grocery store is going to try to write them off as charitable donations, and you'll be implicated. Of course, maybe it's moot, since the store is going to need your "charity's" tax information before they give you anything.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby deskjethp » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:42 am UTC

Awesome! I love to dumpster dive and am quite thrilled to have found a thread about it / other people who like to do it too...

Foodwise, my most recent acquisition was a small unopened bag of Doritos... From the same dumpster I have also in the past gotten ~46 new 20 ounce bottles of pop in two different batches of 20. This is because the bookstore on campus throws out "expired" stuff.

Sort-of-on-topic-ish: I have found that on my college campus, it is easiest to acquire free food between the time "they" are done with it and the time someone comes to take it to the trash.. Usually the events going on around campus like when someone comes to talk about something will result in hoards of leftovers free for the taking after the events are over... Netted from this practice: lots of pizza, ~12 cans of pop, cheese, cookies...

Non-food: Best finds:

- 1 laptop circa 1997-ish complete with Windows 95! (and a cracked (yet functioning) screen) - found at a Sprint cellular tower dumpster

- 1 Functioning electric scooter (bad battery, easy fix)

- 1 Scooter, possibly electric, never got to find out as I only saw it in passing and it was gone by the time I came to get it...
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Magnanimous » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:13 am UTC

It took me a few seconds to realize why this was in the Food forum... I've gone dumpster diving a bit, but haven't seen much (edible) food.
Von Haus wrote:Annoyingly the co-op which used to be our main source has replaced there old large skip with a load of smaller lockable skips. So at cost to themselves they have stopped us from reducing the waste they produce, this irks me, it's not good business and it's not good ethically, it's just daft. I have no problem with companies locking their skips, but to go out and buy new ones for it just seems even more wasteful than the vast quantities of waste they already produced. We're going to have to find somewhere else now, I have no idea where.
Arrrgh. That's infuriating.

And I know some groceries in Seattle will donate nearly-expired food to food shelters, but I haven't read anything about the tax implications.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Mumpy » Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:07 am UTC

I'm surprised at Co-op, they are usually really good at well, everything. I'm sure if you asked them they would donate the food to local homeless shelters (Though probably not you, unfortunately).
I have enjoyed dumpster diving, it was delicious. A friend in London lives near a pretty up-market sandwich shop and swings by them on rubbish night, when they leave out bags of sandwiches made either that day or up to 2 before, the only major downside was that they also dumped coffee grounds straight into the bag full'o food, so you had to pick your bag carefully.

That coulda been problematic had it not been for the vast numbers of bags that were there. I mean SERIOUSLY.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby deskjethp » Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:30 pm UTC

Straight from the dumpster!

1 - plastic Easter egg with four pieces of chocolate inside
1 - bag of jellybeans

Yay!

Also: I'd forgotten I'd found a loaf of bread outside by someone's trash from which I took 1 slice last May..

-------------

edit: (a few days after the above)
Big load today:
4 packets of ramen
12 (expired) bottles of orange juice
4 pack of single serve macaroni
15+ (large box of) microwave popcorn
3 packets of instant oatmeal
5 single serve hot chocolate mixes
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Parsifal » Sat May 07, 2011 3:35 pm UTC

I won't take food from an actual dumpster due to potential contamination, but I have no qualms about grabbing vittles that are *about* to be thrown out. I must have eaten dozens of boxes of day old donuts from the local filling station in college.

Handy tip: if the donut truck regularly arrives at the gas station at 4:00am, yesterday's donuts probably get tossed at 3:00am :)
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby deskjethp » Sun May 08, 2011 3:32 am UTC

Parsifal wrote:Handy tip: if the donut truck regularly arrives at the gas station at 4:00am, yesterday's donuts probably get tossed at 3:00am


Oddly, I never even thought about this... Excellent tip!

So, the university move out week is an absolute gold mine for getting food and such from the dorm dumpsters...

Found a loaf of bread in the bag and a sealed bag of shredded cheese a couple days ago, which combined with the cafeteria microwave, made for a great sextuple decker cheese sandwich
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Jorpho » Fri May 20, 2011 2:31 am UTC

At my old job, sometimes I'd be fortunate with the vending machine attendants when they came to take the expired food, but they generally tried to discourage it. Apparently they kept track of exactly what was left unsold, and anything I walked away with would have to be written off completely somehow. It kind of puzzled me.

I think there are too many homeless people hereabouts to make it worthwhile to even try rifling through the local dumpsters.

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Imma gonna try that next time.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby roband » Tue May 31, 2011 1:37 pm UTC

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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby DustinKoski » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:45 pm UTC

In a fundamentals of oral communication class this last semester there was a lady who distributed donut balls before her speech. By the end of her speech, she let us know that the food we had just eaten was procurred through skipping. One woman actually vomited right on the floor (which luckily was tile) as a bunch of others just made disgusted noises. It was awesome (not so much for her, though.)
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Bakemaster » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:04 pm UTC

Yeah, that's a good way to make an impression, but no way to make a good impression.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby Beardhammer » Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:16 am UTC

Coffee wrote:Quite right, quite right. In that case, does intercepting food before it's tossed count?


I did this when I worked as a prep cook/dishwasher at a couple restaurants. People would leave behind half a plate of food, untouched, and fuck that. If it's not all goopy or half-eaten, I'm gonna throw that stuff into a doggie bag and take it home. I basically ate for free every day I worked, which amusingly saved me quite a lot on food expenses.

People would cut their burgers in half and never touch the other half of the burger. They'd order a plate of 10 fried jumbo shrimp and leave 4 of them on the plate, untouched. Whole orders of fries. Veggies. Shit, one time a guy sent a steak back because it wasn't cooked quite right, and he was one of those jerkasses that comes in 5 minutes after close and knows we won't kick him out - took that motherfucker home with me (the steak, not the jerkass.) $20 14 oz New York strip, free.

Honestly, it's pretty apalling how much food (and other things, but we're talking about food right now) people waste. But whatever, I was getting lots of good, free food. Other employees said I was disgusting, but I never once rescued anything that looked like it had been handled or even messed with (if it had any kind of ketchup or other sauce on it, it went into the trash; no point taking unnecessary risks and soggy food usually tastes gross anyway), and certainly nothing that had bites taken out of it. It's been twelve years since I've had anything worse than a mild fever or 24 hour case of the sniffles.

Hell. Even if I did end up getting some germs from eating that food, it never made me sick, and as far as I'm aware, if you don't get sick from the germs, your body still creates antibodies for them, right? Maybe it's a contributing reason to my ridiculously good health :mrgreen:

At my old job, sometimes I'd be fortunate with the vending machine attendants when they came to take the expired food, but they generally tried to discourage it. Apparently they kept track of exactly what was left unsold, and anything I walked away with would have to be written off completely somehow. It kind of puzzled me.


If you've ever worked in a restaurant, you can probably guess why. If you get something from a provider that isn't any good (expired, not as advertised, whatever) and you want to get a refund - you need all of it intact. They need to see that, yes, that five pound bag of cheese has a bunch of green mold in it, or yes the milk is indeed rancid, or that the greens you ordered are limp and not exactly fresh. If you throw it away, how do they know you aren't trying to job them?

I'm fairly certain they chuck it when they recover it anyway, but the goods need to be present to be accounted for if you wanna get a refund. I remember a newbie inadvertently costing the restaurant about $60 when she dumped out about eight gallons of milk that arrived rancid.
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby deskjethp » Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:57 pm UTC

Just scored a thing of fresh popcorn out of the trash a couple days ago
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Re: Skipping aka Dumpster Diving

Postby ShootTheChicken » Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:47 pm UTC

Hmm, I've never actually grabbed anything from a dumpster, but I used to work at a gigantic Loblaws (grocery store) that would throw away oodles of goods from the bakery every day. I came to an agreement with them and a lot of bread/buns never made it to the garbage chute.

In other news, AFAIK sell-by/best-before dates are not regulated at all and are up to the discretion of the company producing the product (may only apply to certain countries, be careful), and therefore these dates are generally well ahead of the food actually going off to encourage people to buy more. Even food at/just past best-before dates will probably be fine.
SecondTalon wrote:the Hot Freshness of Wicked Classic.
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