Dumpster diving is a term for delving into skips or dumpsters used by retail establishments to dispose of food past its best by date.
Required equipment is a head mounted torch, gloves and a small ladder. Sometimes gumboots.
I was initiated into this somewhat legally grey business by Quoll, a friend of my eldest son.
One night about four years ago we set off in his van to explore bin possibilities in the Heidelberg area. We did well out of several supermarket dumpsters with lots of vegetables, some slightly dubious meat and heaps of pretty basic bread. Quoll was in a share house of about half a dozen people so there were plenty of mouths to feed.
But by far our best dumpster was outside a delicatessen. In it we discovered dozens of some quite exotic cheeses all with that day’s best by date stamped on their packets. We both wondered how the deli could make a profit discarding so much because we estimated its retail value was between $300 and $400. I still have some of that haul, goat’s cheese, in my freezer.
Since I’ve been in Benalla I’ve only been able to dumpster dive, often with a friend, at my local supermarket and at Aldi. The Coles and Woolworth dumpsters are locked behind doors and gates and are therefore pretty inaccessible.
My friend actually made a deal with the local supermarket to take their milk for nothing on the days the best by date came up, because she had several cats and other animals to feed. She also got meat and other goodies at various times.
I said earlier that dumpster diving was a legally grey area and from other people who do it, or from more widely published pieces, the advice is to walk away if you are confronted in the act.
One night at Aldi, my friend and I were hard at work when an Aldi truck arrived to make a delivery. We expected a rebuke but instead were told that we were welcome to take anything but PLEASE do not add anything to the bin.
Then there was a segment on Radio National a year or two ago, in which a medical student in England regularly engaged in the practice, was told by a store owner how much he hated having to throw out so much food and again to take as much as she could.
And as of a month or so ago, a store opened in Denmark which only sells deeply price discounted food which is past its best by date.
I suppose I should add that financially I do not need to dumpster dive but I do enjoy the thrill of the chase. Must go back to that Heidelberg deli some time too.