The idea behind freeganism is that you get as much of your food as you can from stuff that has been thrown out by supermarkets, restaurants and street markets. Though the practice is also known as voluntary simplicity and monetary minimalism it’s only partly about living cheaply. It’s more a political philosophy, a statement of defiance against what freegans regard as the wasteful consumerist culture of the developed world, which is why it has also been called ethical eating and the ultimate boycott.
The name is usually said to be a blend of free and vegan, since early practitioners were either vegetarian or vegan (not least because it is much more dangerous to eat discarded meat or fish than vegetables and grains). But it has also been argued from a political perspective that it’s short for free gain. The evidence is that some normally vegan freegans will take animal products, since there’s another term, meagan, for vegans who will eat meat if they can get it for nothing.
The culture lives on the edge of illegality, since many firms regard taking food from skips or dumpsters as theft. Some extreme freegan practices would be considered unacceptable by most people, such as table diving, in which freegans hover in a restaurant and grab discarded food from diners’ plates after they leave.
Freegans come from a larger community of young, do-it-yourself punks. Many are anarchists, opposing all forms of government and embracing ideals such as individual freedom and cooperation. Some, though, don’t identify as anarchists — or as punks — or they resent being labeled. But all of them despise the American-style consumerism they call destructive.
The Sacramento Bee, 27 May 2003
An unwritten rule of freeganism is that you leave enough for people who genuinely need the food. So when I found discarded boxes of carrots, I only took a few handfuls.
The Observer, 23 Nov. 2003
Search World Wide Words
Recently added or updated
Ampersand; Phizzog; Horse creature; Get one’s goat; Mammock; Mx; Stepney; Vape; No names, no pack drill; Bridegroom; Lilly-low; The Language Myth by Vyvyan Evans; Boot and trunk; Zoilism; Fish-faced; Poach; Immensikoff.
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.
Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!