These people don‘t eat out of dumpsters because they‘re poor and desperate. They do it to prove a political point. You wouldn‘t expect someone to choose a lifestyle that involved eating out of dumpsters. Kind of seems like something you do as a desperate last resort. But there‘s an entire society of people who willingly get their meals out of the garbage. They‘re called freegans, and they say they have a reason for doing it.
Madeline Nelson is a freegan and she joined Tucker Carlson to explain what cause is worth dumpster diving for meals.
To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, 'THE SITUATION': Why do you eat out of trash cans?
MADELINE NELSON, FREEGAN: Well, Tucker, it‘s—I would say it‘s a political choice as much as anything else. There‘s so much waste in America. I think America is just an example of what‘s going on. We‘re at a point in our society where we‘re throwing out tremendous amounts of perfectly usable food, clothing, electronics, et cetera, that a group of us think that it‘s a perfectly rational choice to save that, to salvage that.
CARLSON: Well, I‘m with you on the clothing and electronics. There‘s a lot of waste in this country, and it bothers me. The food is in its own category. The reason we throw away food is not because food producers don‘t want to make money—they do—but because they are afraid of being sued by people who get sick from food that is over its expiration date.
NELSON: Well, I can understand how most Americans would think that. So—in fact, though, the law was changed in the U.S. in 1981. There‘s a good Samaritan law, and basically food that isn‘t considered prime sellable food because it‘s maybe a little bit wilted on the lettuce, a day old on the bread, that sort of thing, if you give that and you give it in good faith, you can‘t be sued.
CARLSON: To a homeless shelter or...
NELSON: To anyone. You can give it to anyone and you couldn‘t be sued.
CARLSON: OK. I mean, I‘m following you so far. Why don‘t you pick at Whole Foods? Why do you have to eat out of the garbage? That seems like kind of going a little far for a political belief. No?
NELSON: To pick at Whole Foods?
CARLSON: To pick at Whole Foods, to write your congressman, to write an op-ed for the newspaper. I mean, there are a lot of ways to be politically active. Eating out of the dumpster doesn‘t seem like one of them.
NELSON: I agree with you. There is a lot of ways. And this is one of them, of course. It‘s one way to do it in a very physical way.
I think you‘d be surprised, really. I‘d certainly understand people react. They have a reaction like, yuck.
CARLSON: It is kind of nasty. I mean, dumpsters are nasty.
NELSON: I think if you actually saw it, though, you would realize that a lot of it is not nasty. And we find half cases of perfectly good—for instance, a half a case of arugula that‘s never made it out onto the shelves of the store, all wrapped up. Portabello mushrooms is another example.
Let‘s see what else. You find cans that are ever so slightly dented. You find bread in abundance. You find all sorts of things, especially at the major supermarkets, where the managers don‘t control the ordering. So they get in lots of food, then they have to get rid of that lots of food, even if that food has absolutely nothing wrong with it.
CARLSON: But don‘t you—right. It may have absolutely nothing wrong with it. It may have something absolutely wrong with it, though. Aren‘t you concerned about putting it in your mouth?
NELSON: I certainly understand that concern. The simple answer to that is the same rules that apply when you open your own refrigerator at home apply to what you see there. If the tomato looks good, if the tomato smells good, if the tomato has nothing wrong with it in the same way in your own fridge, you would look at that and you would smell it and you would feel it. Your senses are a very, very good guide of what‘s going on there.
CARLSON: Yes, sometimes they are, but then sometimes you get botulism and die. You have dinner parties?
NELSON: Yes, I do.
CARLSON: With food that you take out of the trash. Do you tell—announce to people when they show up, by the way, I just pulled this arugula out of the garbage?
NELSON: Well, absolutely. Absolutely. I wouldn‘t want to fool anybody. Absolutely not. Some of these dinner parties are among people who do this dumpster diving also. So they‘re perfectly well aware.
CARLSON: I just can‘t get over how normal you seem. I don‘t mean to patronize you at all, Madeline, but you just don‘t seem like the kind of person—if I saw you rooting around in a dumpster, I don‘t know what—I would stop and stare.
NELSON: Would you? And that‘s actually good, because that‘s part of the theater of it. You know, that‘s part of the theater of it.
CARLSON: But not in a good way I wouldn‘t stop and stare. I would stop and stare like, that woman must be deranged, she looks so nice, why is she in the dumpster?
NELSON: And Tucker, do you know what I would do at that point? I would look at you and I‘d say, would you like some of this—we‘ve got prepackaged lox here and there are some bagels...
CARLbSON: Do you know what I would do at that point? I would run away.
But I appreciate you coming on anyway. Madeline Nelson, thank you. A freegan. We appreciate it.
NELSON: You‘re welcome.