Is It OK to Dumpster Dive for a Pot Luck?

Angela Tchou/CC BY 2.0

Here's an interesting dilemma. What would/should you do if someone brings dumpster dived food to a potluck or family gathering? After all, dumpster diving families often eat incredibly well. Why shouldn't they share their bounty?

Canadian advice Columnist David Eddie was asked by a (somewhat disgusted) reader about the etiquette of refusing food that's been liberated from a dumpster. The reader in question had hosted a Christmas dinner, and his/her brother-in-law turned up with (unspecified, but still sealed) food from a dumpster diving mission. Should the host hold their tongue? Or should they speak up about what they do or don't find acceptable in their household. While David Eddie, to his credit, acknowledges the gross food waste problem in our society, he suggests that bringing dumpster food to a party is taking it a step too far:

He’s kind of imposing his value system on his hosts in an in-your-face way. It’s one thing to bring raw vegan pizza with cashew “cheeze” and/or a tofurkey to a potluck. Now people are going to start plopping down dumpster delicacies? Ixnay. I may be old school, but in my view, you soft-pedal your lifestyle choices when you cross the threshold of someone else’s domicile.

I must say that I am not sure I agree. Sure, the host is perfectly within his rights to say no to a particular gift or suggest that they are uncomfortable with it. But whether or not it's wrong to bring that gift in the first place is a trickier question, and should be primarily decided by what the dumpster diver knows about their hosts' likely reaction. While I do not dumpster dive myself, I for one would be perfectly happy for someone to bring liberated ex-waste food to a party, so long as they'd taken precautions to ensure it wasn't spoiled. But if I were more squeamish about trash, I'd expect my guests to not put me in an uncomfortable position.

Whether or not it's ok to bring dumpster dived food to a party has no right or wrong answer. It depends on the party, and it depends on the food.

Tags: Activism | Canada | Dumpster Diving | Living With Less

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