CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Shrouded by darkness, behind a grocery store that shall not be named, 21-year-old Kaitlyn Tokay is on a mission.
“I have a system. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Tokay said.
Armed with her iPhone’s flashlight app, Kaitlin is busy rummaging around a large metal dumpster, on a hunt for meat, cheese or whatever she happens to find.
This scavenging for food is part of her “freegan” lifestyle, where she and a friend, or group of fellow freegans, re-purpose the food others throw away into a main source of nutrition. As a dumpster diver since 2010, a whopping 95 to 100 percent of her diet is found from the trash.
“It saves me a ton of money,” she said.
Surprisingly, one night’s haul offers up plenty of organic, pricy items, like a Naked brand protein shake, some diced red onion, cut up squash, red peppers and plenty of salad mix.
“We estimate we [get] $300 to $500 in food we find.”
But for Kaitlyn, it’s more than just a money thing. Every year, Americans waste about 600 pounds of food per person. So along with taking a stand against waste, any extra food Kaitlyn finds goes back into the community at food pantries.
The big question remains: doesn’t our freegan get weirded out by eating food that’s been sitting in a dumpster?
“When I first started out I thought this would be gross. But I’ve made food for friends and not told them [the food comes from the dumpster] and they don’t even know.”
So far, Kaitlyn’s never gotten sick, and she doesn’t plan to stop any time soon.
You can follow Kaitlyn’s food finding adventures at her blog here where she also educates others on food spoilage, and tips if you want to start scavenging yourself.