Food waste accounts for nearly 20 percent of New Yorkers’ trash—a treasure to discerning Dumpster divers, one of whom we joined on a recent wintry Monday to inspect the trash outside Khim’s market on North 7th Street and Bedford Avenue. “I’m very picky about what I eat, so Williamsburg is a great place to go through the trash,” says Ana, a 23-year-old Greenwich Village native. “Khim’s are some of the best in Brooklyn.” Other good spots, according to Ana, include West 8th Street, where freegans can score gourmet cookies and organic juices. “It makes me really sad that so much good food is thrown away,” says Ana, who found enough groceries to last for weeks—once she cuts off the dark spots.
Above, some of the haul from three different garbage piles across North Brooklyn.
“We got some last time; I think they’re good for like two days. The avocados were a little rotten.”
“You always find white bread. Bagels are good, too, but there’s a lot of them.”
“I find these in every Dumpster I go to. They’re kind of gross, so maybe people don’t buy them. I was really excited at first when I found them, because they’re vegan and macrobiotic and organic, but they kind of have this strange sour taste, even off the shelf.”
Flowers and plants:
“I take them all the time. I think it’s really sad to see plants going into the landfill; they’re still alive. My friend, his whole room is covered in Dumpstered plants. It looks like a rain forest.”
Lara’s Bake Shop cookies:
“Do you know these cookies? They’re like Tate’s cookies, which are, like, those really good cookies. I’ve never found these before, so that’s exciting.”
“Tomatoes are always a good find, because you can wash them and cook them, so even slightly squishy tomatoes I take. These tomatoes look perfectly good; they weren’t even squishy.”
“It’s a nice one, and I’d just cut part of it off. I can eat healthier out of the trash than getting a $1 slice of pizza.”
“Whoa! This is beautiful. It looks like they have a rotten one in every bag, so you just have to toss that out.”
Cooked brown rice:
“I wouldn’t eat it, but my housemate ate it yesterday. His food standards are really low.”