Dumpster Food Divers: Watch the Perishables

Warmer weather puts perishable food, and you, at risk. If you are diving for food, I would suggest close monitoring of one to three dumpsters that have delivered for you in the past. Know the dumpster pick-up day and make note of  the empty container or the new trash. This will be your baseline. This way, when you return to the dumpster, you will know the time frame for perishable food arrival.

We picked up five packages of uncooked meat from a favorite dumpster a couple of days ago: two large packages of chicken, a package of hamburger, and two packages of pork chops. We did not know when they had arrived. Unfortunately, only the pork chops survived the smell test; the rest had begun to ‘turn.’ We enjoyed the pork chops, and made a decision, with the changing weather, to keep a very close eye on timing.

We retrieved some delicious barbecue using the timing technique.

That said, we also picked up five heads of lettuce, broccoli, red and green grapes, three heads of cauliflower, eight pears, several pounds of oranges, two dozen eggs, and more tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. We have begun to limit the amount of food we bring home because there is so much of it. Fruit and vegetable-wise, this is the healthiest diet I have ever eaten.

A trend we have noticed is that people dump their personal household trash into public dumpsters, presumably because people cannot afford roll off service, an indicator of the struggling economy.

I saw so much clothing in a dumpster today that I only retrieved a blanket and left the rest. We are hoping to yard sale our many finds. But we know that many people cannot even afford yard sale prices, so we are considering yard-trading. This is a type of bartering. People bring us junk. We give them merchandise. Then we take the junk to recycle. Any thoughts? Has anyone done something similar?


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The Difference Between Jail and Prison

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By: Crane-Station Thursday March 17, 2011 9:17 am

Even for many of those whose loved ones are incarcerated, the terms ‘jail’ and ‘prison’ are one-in-the-same, and this is far from the truth.

Even Wikipedia has this wrong:

A prison (from Old French prisoun)[1] is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime. Other terms are penitentiary, correctional facility, remand center, detention center and gaol (or jail).

A State penitentiary is not a jail. However, unfortunately, for the many thousands of non-violent State inmates being held for years at a time in harsh and crippling county jail conditions, with no hope of transfer to prison, jails are being used as prisons. They were not initially intended as such. Jails  are supposed to be temporary holding facilities. This is no longer true.

Can you imagine being in a situation where you beg, each and every day, just to get to prison?

Take a look at this chilling special report by Greg Belzley:


His list of horrors is not comprehensive. For example, pregnant women, and their babies, have died or nearly died, in county jails. And while he states that “Mentally disturbed inmates are denied medication and counseling, and are simply locked away in solitary confinement,”  he  left out this:…where they are left to sit in their own urine or feces, fired upon with pepper spray, and left alone screaming for help day after day, without ever being out of solitary for even one of twenty-four hours, because that one hour rec thing that everyone assumes inmates get, is bullshit… And the part where we are quietly locking up the mentally ill, so that prisons are not prisons any more. They are assisted living for the mentally ill, only the ‘assistance’ is coming from other inmates. Inmates push the wheelchairs. Inmates clean the urine. Inmates offer the verbal comfort. Correct me if I am wrong anyone? Is Willard in upstate New York a prison now? Willard, a huge facility, used to be a mental institution. Now it is a prison (google).

Professor Robert Lawson (University of Kentucky Law Professor, textbook author (subject of evidence), author of many articles on jail and prison conditions, NACDL member and expert says (quoted in summary form, source above):

“Most chilling is [Professor Lawson’s] description of the life of state inmates in county jails that were never intended to be long-term incarceration facilities. They lack privacy, natural light, exercise, access to the outdoors…”  -snip-  “With little more personal space than the square footage of their bedding, inmates spend their days playing cards, watching TV, or lying on mat- either in a bunk or on the floor.”

Why are hundreds of thousands of Class D non-violent offenders (most are drug war casualties) doing the hardest time imaginable for anyone to do: county jail time? What possible chance do these inmates ever have upon release? (Bear in mind that all education programs for Class Ds in Kentucky have been de-funded. Even GED prep. That’s right).

If I say any more I will go off the rails. My intention was to clarify for everyone that jails and prisons are vastly different, and that jail time is orders of magnitude more harsh than prison time, yet, since jail is where more and more non-violent offenders languish, and since jails are becoming prisons now, people misunderstand the terms.

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Just Be Careful When Handling Scrap…

Folks, this just in, from source that I trust:

Just be careful when handling scrap. especially electronics.  They can contain heavy metals and chemicals that are harmful.  They are not meant to be salvaged by unprotected people….just be careful, ok?


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Freon is Dangerous [Updated]

Hello everyone.

If you find a discarded TV or some other item (air conditioner or refrigerator for example) containing freon, leave it alone. Freon is dangerous. Special thanks to Sears and others for pointing this out. Makes me wonder though, because these items are broken up at the landfill. Scary thought.

I received this note today about freon, and I trust the source. Additional information is welcome, as usual.

“Freon is a trademarked name for a group of chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. It is not a naturally occurring substance; Freon must be created in a lab. All forms of Freon are followed by a number and a trademark symbol. Due to the fact that all forms of Freon cause destruction of the Earth’s ozone layer, the use of this gas has been banned in refrigeration and air conditioning systems in the United States.”

Go here for information:



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Dumpster Doll: First Dumpster/Recycle Photo Essay

Today we picked up a gallon of milk, some peppers, some beefsteak tomatoes, a package of hot dog buns, a bag of apples, a cantaloupe, a grapefruit, some red seedless grapes, a metal door, 21 pounds of cans, some construction-site sheet metal, a microwave, some pipes and a pound of cords from the dumpsters.

We received from recycle:

sheet metal-shreddable (included the door): 60 lb @ 0.11/lb=6.60

aluminum cans: 21 lb@ 0.60/lb=12.60

insulated copper (cord from lamp, small recharger cord, various wires from the street): 1 lb @ 1.15/lb=1.15

Total: 23.95

I started taking photos, and will take more but it began raining, so I missed the other doll in a different dumpster, a literal fork in the road (to eat with) and some clothing and more furniture. Those will come later.

We have had to stop collecting toys because there are so many in the dumpsters. Why can we not get these to children who need them, say, in Haiti?

More oranges in perfect condition.

We had to leave many red seedless grapes behind because we could not handle them all.

Peppers in perfect condition, sorry for cellophane distortion. We will juice these in a juicer we found in the dumpster (still in package) and add to V-8 juice.

Beefsteak tomatoes, also in perfect condition. Again, sorry for cellophane distortion.

A gallon of unopened milk that will not expire until March 8, 2011.

Yellow things in the background are school buses: a wall of school buses at recycle.

If you strip TVs for copper, please stop doing it. Freon is dangerous. See the post about freon.

Go easy on me folks, I just learned how to use a digital camera. Still, I want to get the word out that there is no shame in culling food from dumpsters. In fact, you can eat very well.

Since our economy is rocketing to a bottom that can always get lower, I feel that this information will be helpful to others who are struggling: no worries. You can’t get this stuff with food stamps! (We do not receive food stamps, but I have in the past.)

Sheet metal at recycle, a receiving area where they grind up scrap metal. It often smells of rubber here, from tires on junked cars.

My concern is for the folks who cannot get out to collect things. Any suggestions?


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Error: FDL Will Not Be Airing Waste Land This Upcoming Monday

Well, this is embarrassing. Turns out there were some scheduling issues with the filmmakers and Firedoglake.com regarding the showing of Waste Land, and it will NOT be shown there this Monday upcoming. If you read the blog here about the movie itself, bear in mind that, again, it will NOT be shown as stated (or, rather, misstated).

This is the FDL editor’s note:

Editor’s note: Unfortunately, Firedoglake.com will not be featuring Waste Land this coming Monday, February 21 on FDL Movie night. The filmmakers were not available for that evening; we thank all those who tried arrange this event and community members who are interested in Waste Land.

The FDL Movie Night is a live chat with filmmakers to discuss their projects; trailer for these films are used in the Introductory Post. The FDL Movie Night does not show major films (without license or permission).

Oops. Well. I will just put on a dunce cap and hang out in the corner…eating worms.


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Our Power Got Shut Off Today and it is Real: No Energy Assistance to the Poor

I feel like Lady Macbeth, walking around this place with candles. Our power got shut off today at the very same time that the wind blew out the power in the apartment building, so I said to my husband something like, “Is it us? Or the wind?” It was us.

Because we are poor and I knew this would happen, I had collected some really cute candles from the dumpsters and put them with the lightbulbs, for days like these.

Anyway, I hawked my laptop (thank God I have Windows 7) at Cashland to get the power back on. For thirty-two dollars I get the beloved computer back in six days. Amazing how expensive it is to be this poor. While we were in Cashland doing this, a gentleman next to us was doing the same thing.

Meanwhile, to the power company I said, “Let me get this straight. If I am old and sick, say, on dialysis or  a respirator, or I cannot get out, there is nothing you can do? Didn’t there used to be laws against that?” I was referred to The Salvation Army, and I knew that was going nowhere, plus I am fifty but in shape and feel that emergency services should go to the elderly sick, but still. People will die behind this so-called ‘austerity’ crap. If I had a child in an unheated home without warm food, I would be charged with felony wanton endangerment but I guess the government can do whatever it wants to whomever it wants. Even old, sick people.

I am typing this on my husband’s computer. Which reminds me. Yesterday I was in a meeting downtown and my husband waited in the parking lot, doing Tai Chi. Someone called the cops and three cruisers arrived. By this time he had walked to the library and I was left standing there with the freaked out cops, who were claiming a “homeland security” breach, my hand to God I am not making this up. “He was doing Tai Chi,” I insisted, “and then he walked to the library.” I might as well have told them that the earth is flat, hollow, and inhabited on the interior.

Our biggest fear was that we would lose all the food we have hunter-gathered from dumpsters, a cache of food that we are proud to be enjoying.

On the dumster front, like I said, the wind was blowing today, and that was good, because I gathered up a few gutters and moldings from buildings that peeled off, so we hit recycle for fourteen dollars in cash from aluminum, and on the way home we swung by the discount grocery dumpster and picked up six or seven pounds of red seedless grapes, and a beautiful, perfectly-working juicer, still in the box, plus two new five-setting shower heads still in the package, a low-energy lightbulb and a few cans.

At a barbecue vendor dumpster we picked up five pounds of cole slaw, seal not even broken, with a March, 2011 expiration date, not thirty seconds after it had been delivered to the dumpster, plus a delicious Southern-style chicken dish that had been slow cooked and was delicious. We were in and out of that dumpster in less than fifteen seconds.

At home I took a candlelight shower with leftover hot water and I was just about to take the computer to the laundry room to plug it in when the power came on.

So at this point I tested the juicer, and made an amazing lemonade with lemons from the dumpster. I had been wondering what to do with all those lemons.

Hope everyone is well. Follow me on Twitter at CraneStation!

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