Waste Not, Want Not.

In Holiday times, many households look forward to leftovers almost as much as Thanksgiving dinner itself, but what about all of the leftovers that don’t get eaten. Or, for that matter, what about all of the food products in our society are thrown away every single day?

In their documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (now available on demand online), Filmmakers Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin decided to stop purchasing groceries, and start eating food that had been thrown away, whilst rolling the camera throughout.

The film is exploring the phenomenon of “Freeganism,” which is a progressive, though not particularly new, concept. Those who practice it live by the tenet that they will only eat food that has already been discarded, which would otherwise go to waste. That way, they avoid contributing monetarily to a system deemed corrupt, unethical, and wasteful.

Rustemeyer and Baldwin found that in six months they took home about $20,000 worth of food, collected mostly from dumpsters outside of grocery stores. They said that they could not even begin to quantify the shocking gross fiscal value of all of the surplus food they surveyed.

The duo also noted that a large amount of this food was thrown out because it was near the “best before” date listed, though not yet past it. However, these time-stamps do not necessarily denote a time that they should be consumed by for health or safety reasons, but rather when food items would be in their peak. Rustemeyer explains that, “I think people are getting really confused and thinking that’s the absolute last moment that they can possibly consume that item, and it’s leading to a lot of waste.”

We all love leftovers, but let’s bare in mind that with access to food, we should accept a certain responsibility to respect it. Thanksgiving certainly celebrates an aspect of excess, but it also asks us to be thankful for, and mindful of, what we have. So, let’s not go too overboard on the stuffing this year.

Featured photo by KA.