Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tufts University Student working to launch a 'Freegan' Restaurant with food from dumpsters

Maximus Thaler, a student at Tufts University, is working on his restaurant plan of a freegan kitchen where all the food made would be from food thrown out by local grocers and restaurants.  This non-for-profit venture would be less about helping the hungry and more about reshaping society's definitions of whats 'good' and whats 'bad'.  "Grocery stores are not selling food, they're selling packaging," says Thaler to HuffPoLive.

Watch full interview with Huffington Post Live, here.

Apparently, Thaler isn't the only person who wants to revitalize our perceptions of good and bad.  Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe's, is working on his Urban Food Initiative store to be located in Boston.  UFI will be a place where people can get low-cost, healthy food made to-go and will also have close to expired milk for $1 and other goods significantly marked down.

Thaler said his inspiration is drawn from living in cooperative housing and dumpster-diving for food to share with anyone who came to the house looking for a meal.  Thaler felt he could create a bigger effort, by starting a restaurant, The Gleaner's Kitchen, which would not sell the originally discarded food, but cook it and give it away.  This concept is a ways off from Jon Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen-which requires either a donation or donated work in exchange for food.  For Gleaner's Kitchen, the food provided to would be collected at night after the stores close to use-an action that is not illegal as it is covered under California vs Greenwood, which ruled that garbage is public property and anyone is allowed to go through it and take what has been discarded.

When asked about liability issues if anyone gets sick, Thaler points to the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996-protecting those who donated food from being liable from any prosecution.  But Thaler points out that, 'no one has ever gotten sick [in the co-op].'  And Professor Jeff Ferrell and author of Empire of Scrounge (2005) has been dumpster-diving for food for over 30 years and said he has never gotten sick from this effort either.  Ferrell says he eats very well because all the food thrown out is good food-the nicer the food the more likely it is to be tossed if it has a slight blemish.  Plus, "junk food never goes bad," says Ferrell. 

Thaler still has some details and red-tape to go through, but is looking to open The Gleaner's Kitchen in the Boston area.

What do you think? Please leave your comments below!

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