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I just found these old photos of a Christmas present to some dear friends– the premier model, you know you want it, of DUMPSTER DIVER BARBIE.
All of Barbie’s acouterments are hand-crafted by yours truly and a good friend of like mind. Take a close look to appreciate the miniature bagels in a miniature plastic bag. I shoulda been a fuckin’ doll maker. Also note that in the heat of the moment Barbie’s headlamp has fallen off into the dumpster. Bad form Barb.
Having a baby really cut into my dumpster diving, and not for the reasons you’d think. It’s no biggie to leave her home with dad, whilst me and my dumpster-lovin’ girlfriends go dive. But, unfortunately, dumpster diving degrades our diet.
Everything changes when you have a baby. I didn’t used to care so much about the quality of food I put in my body and fed those around me. I mean, I cared, more than most I guess, but saving perfectly good food from the waste stream (waste flood would be more accurate) trumped the healthfulness. I would try to buy organic, when I was buying, and then happily consume all those pesticides, antibiotics, additives, etc, when I “shopped” the trash.
Then I got pregnant. Polluting the tiny, fresh life growing in my belly didn’t seem worth the earth-saving trash rescue. Now I have a baby outside and a baby inside. Such clean slates. We eat 90% organic and/or wild food. We don’t have tons of extra cash laying around, but I afford it by buying all my organic staples in bulk, doing all the subsistence gathering I can (all our meat and fish is local and wild) and buying almost no pre-prepared foods. I make just about everything from scratch, including all of our bread, granola, even organic ice cream, to satisfy our very sweet teeth.
That said, I’ve recently had renewed interest in the dumpster as a source of treats for my good egg laying girls. When my hens finally started laying, my lackadaisical chicken care took a leap for the better. Hard not to appreciate them more when they’re giving me all their unborn children…
I had long since run out of my 5 gallons of dried carrot tops (which worked by the way, they did seem to eat them), and my frozen salmonberry seed ice-cubesicles ( a by-product of summer juice making). Chook treats were down to a scoop of barley and a handful of crumbled dried seaweed plus whatever meager days worth of veggie scraps.
The good grocery store in town, the one run by locals, the one with a surprisingly large selection of organic stuff, and a dumpster hardly worth diving, agreed to save me lettuce and cabbage leaves. But there wasn’t much. Not enough.
The evil grocery store, the one run by some big conglomerate, who’s policy actually includes never for any reason giving away expired produce, the one who’s dumpster is perpetually full of piles and bags and boxes of still perfectly good food, was beckoning.
The other night, while hubby dutifully put the baby to sleep, I thought I’d just pop down there by myself. I almost never go dumpstering alone. Mostly I’m paranoid. It’s freaky to have your head down in a dumpster with no one on watch. Especially this dumpster, which is surrounded (I kid you not) by it’s very own 12 foot tall barbed wire fence, who’s gate they only occasionally lock. Go figure. But also it’s just a pain in the ass getting stuff out with no one to hand it to.
I should have called a friend. But I just wanted to run down real quick, look on top for produce, not hunt for junk food I shouldn’t eat.
Why, why do I never learn?
The Big D was stuffed to the gills with milk (some of which was organic!), half and half, canned tomatoes, boxes of granola bars and organic oreos, bags of carrots, apples, lettuce, and a whole heap of corn on the cob! Being pregnant, I couldn’t lean down and fish stuff out. There was no getting around it, I had to go in. Getting all that crap out and into the car as fast as I could was a work-out. Actually I left a lot. But still came home with four giant boxes of goodies (and baddies– I hope nobody pays real money for those “O” brand organic oreos).
So my feathered ladies have been happily getting fat on genetically modified corn for days. The grapes they adored. The carrots they’re not touching, too hard I guess. I’m sure this degrades the quality of my eggs, but c’mon. I gotta draw the worry line somewhere.
I read on Ghost Town Farm, one of my favorite homesteading blogs, about raising pigs on largely dumpstered food. That’s inspiring. I’d like to see lots more about raising food animals on dumpsters. It seems a sound urban waste tactic.
While you’re thinkin’ on that, here’s what to do with those 8 boxes of weird tasting fake oreos—
Cookies n’ Coffee Ice Cream
(True you have to have an ice cream maker for this, how extremely un-ludite)
½ c. espresso or strong as possible coffee
½ c. sugar
1 ¼ c. dumpstered half and half
½ c. heavy cream
2 t. vanilla
1 c. crushed crappy fake oreos
Put the cookies in the freezer first thing so that they’re frozen by the time you need ‘em.
Brew the coffee, mix in the sugar till dissolved and set out in the snow, or in your fridge to cool.
When the coffee is completely cold, mix in the dairy and vanilla and pour into your ice cream maker. Freeze as directed. When the soft ice cream stage is reached, stir in the cookies and freeze till hard. You could eat it right at the soft stage of course, you can eat it whenever the hell you want, but it’s better when the cookies have a chance to suck in a little ice cream.
This all started with chickens.
Somewhere in the course of my online chicken research, I stumbled accross (Hallelujiah!) Homegrown Evolution, an urban homesteading blog. It was the first I’d ever seen, the first blog of any kind in fact.
Yes, I am something of a ludite. Before this latest computer addiction phase, I used to get up in the morning and read books, or scheme my next project, on paper, or stare out the window at trees and stuff. Now I get up, every morning I can (ie: if I wake before the babe) and sit here mind-sharing with this glowing box. I can hardly help it. It kind of pisses me off. But I kind of like it.
I too have become someone who sequesters themselves at home and gloms to a computer to feel some kind of virtual kinship, to feel that I am not alone in doing what I do, in being who I am.
It’s hard to believe a mere 3 months ago, I wrote (with a pen!) in my journal (on paper!) a pleading call to the Universe, “Where are all the punk homesteaders? Where are the back-to-the-landers of my generation? Not the squeaky clean yuppie foodies on a ‘Local’ fad, but the nitty gritty, down to the dirt, do-it-yourselfers thumbing their nose at American Mall culture?”
I guess it really all started two years ago when I read The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: A Guide to America’s Underground Food Movements by Sandor Katz, my favorite non-fiction book of all time. I’ve been living in the backwaters of Alaska for all my adult life, doing this thing I do, thinking this way I think, surrounded by towns full of people who aren’t and don’t. Until I read that beloved book, it never really occured to me that there might be a lot of other weirdos out there, doing and thinking like me, a Movement.
Once that idea was sparked, there started some small change within myself, some kind of opening and looking out. It’s not that I’m completely alone here, I have gathered to my breast a tiny nucleous of people– in Cordova, and far flung in the four directions. But the idea that there exists somewhere a culture of us, that was what truly excited me.
A friend said recently, ‘There’s two kinds of people in the world, the shiny people and the hairy people.’ (Some of you will take issue with that, my husband did) I have always felt that there are two kinds of people in this world as well, those who won’t care that your cloth menstrual pad is soaking in a kitchen pot in the bathroom, and those who will.
My point is, Sandor started me on the lookout. For more. So when I found Homegrown Evolution, I didn’t stop there. I dove in. I discovered my own online community. And it seemed, if I want ya’ll to serve up, I’d better put in my own 2 cents. And here I am. Here’s my 2 cents.
Now serve up.