I‘m sure we’ve all heard about “second hand clothing before,” or how about “Salvation Army?” But have you ever heard about second hand food, recycling it that is?
Did you know that all supermarkets and grocery stores deliberately throw out their day expired food and slightly rotted produce.
Roots of Recycling
It never crossed my mind until I began squatting. It might sound selfish because we SHOULD HAVE been giving it to the needy, but what if the needy didn’t want it, or need it. Or what if there was enough to go around?
The ideas of squatting results in recycling just about anything, and when I began my travels throughout Paris, I was needy and didn’t have enough money to buy that 15 – 20 €uro block of French cheese. Should I have left the city and gone elsewhere cheaper? Maybe, but I wanted to stick around, pick up French. Trust me I did, and a little more than just the language.
At first I paid for it ALL: the expensive cheeses, meats, etc. Then I fell into what you call the “5 finger discount,” which yes, is absolutely fuckin’ terrible, but we quickly discovered recycling and it changed our lives.
In my prior squats we were sort of brainwashed with the idea that it was the “huge” company/supermarket/consumer mega stores who were the real “thieves,” in turn making it “OK” to steal back from them. That idea didn’t last long because after learning about “true” liberal squat living, we realized two wrongs don’t make a right the way two lefts do…
It wasn’t until my 3rd official squat, The B.L.O.C. (check out “Squatting in Paris” to learn more), that I picked up this trend. “True” squatters were so religious about recycling food that they even made weekly sign-up charts for it.
Every morning between 7-8 am most major super markets throughout Paris trash everything the law tells them to, but as a civilian you have the right to visit the market yourself and ask to take home what’s “left over” or being thrown out.
Shelters and soup kitchens are more than welcomed to take as much as they need, so please don’t think we were jumping in the wagon before them. Not true at all. BUT, since their food almost always comes from donations of the upper/middle class, a lot of expired, non-purchased and uneaten food inevitably goes straight to the dump anyway (and it would be absolutely terrible to feed to a person in need half rotted food just cause’). In the end, someone needs to take it because it seems like a complete waste if you ask me, but don’t worry, that’s where the squatters come in…
Aldi (Supermarket chain throughout Europe)
Dia (Supermarket chain throughout Europe)
Lidl (Supermarket chain throughout Europe)
Many of these markets, especially the chains, like to establish a relationship with recyclers. The first time might seem weird, or they might not directly hand food over, but if you tell them you’re with an artistic association aka squat and introduce yourself, they’ll learn to recognize you. Smaller establishments or family owned grocery stores will deliberately throw food at you, even giving you boxes and crates to take it home in. If you don’t show, they’ll just hand it over to someone else, or worst of all, literally THROW it out.
If your wondering whether any of it made us sick–not at all, or at least not any more than the steroids and toxins in 1st world produced food does.
One advice I can give you, especially with dairy products, is to not go a day more than the expired date. Try to eat it all the same day you retrieve it, and if you’re with mates–trust me, it goes quick (don’t worry you can always re-stack up the next day).
NOTE: you won’t always get delicacies, mostly just what you NEED, unless of course your idea of a delicacy differs from mine.
People have even made personal businesses out of this, like grabbing what’s left over and reselling it to families who are willing to buy products at very discounted prices (I guess certain individuals feel they deserve a little something extra since their the ones waking up at crack of dawn to “re-coup”). I can’t tell you if it’s illegal, never tried it for myself, but you can find it on the internet…possibly eBay?
Just Remember: “Nothing in this world is free,” but if you skip the “middle man,” it can be. Now that you have the secret, wake up, smell the coffee, and try recycling in your own city or town!
~ FIN ~