I was up in Los Angeles for a weekend hosting a Food Waste Fiasco and we dived into about 40 dumpsters on Friday and Saturday.
This was the first dumpster score. Around $300-$500 worth of delicious and nutritious food from one dumpster alone.
I had a couple of helpers. Meet Simone and Leonardo. Their mom Susan brought them out for the day to learn about food waste in the United States.
I think Leonardo is trying to figure out what is wrong with this grape. Nothing really. This is all perfectly good food being tossed out by grocery stores.
We set up a display on Saturday to show people how much perfectly good food is going to waste. People were blown away. And this was actually the smallest Fiasco I have ever put together.
I’ve dived into over 1,000 dumpsters in 25 states across the United States and found Los Angeles to be typical amongst the rest of the country. Dumpsters are filled to the brim with perfectly good food all across the United States. If you haven’t been blown away yet you’ve got to check out the photos of my other Food Waste Fiasco’s around the United States.
We want grocery stores to donate this food instead of throwing it away. When they donate food to non-profits they are protected from lawsuits by the Good Samaritan Food Act, they get tax write offs, they spend less on dumpster fees, and most importantly they are doing what is right for their community when they donate their excess food! The most common excuse for not donating is that they fear liability but they are protected and according to a University of Arkansas study not a single lawsuit has ever been made against a grocery store that has donated food to a food rescue program.
My message isn’t to go dumpster diving. My message is that no food should be in the dumpsters in the first place. But while all this food is being thrown away if you want to dumpster dive I support you and I’m here to help you be successful. Dumpster diving is radical. You can reduce your environmental impact, save a ton of money, and make a statement about our wasteful industrial food system.
Here’s a resource guide catered towards Los Angeles but you can look this stuff up in your city as well!
If you want to skip the dumpsters and rescue the food before it ever hits the dumpster (which is what I encourage) then you should volunteer with a food rescue program or start your own. In LA check out Food Finders which is a community-based food rescue organization that serves as a conduit for food, education, and awareness between donors, volunteers, agencies and people in need. Their mission is Our mission is to eliminate hunger and food waste while improving nutrition in the food insecure communities we serve.
You should definitely get involved with the L.A. Kitchen. L.A. Kitchen reclaims healthy, local food that would otherwise go to waste, and use it to empower, nourish, and engage the community. They believe that neither food nor people should ever go to waste.
Food Not Bombs is a radical group working against food waste and actually goes dumpster diving for food. They are an all-volunteer global movement that shares free plant-based meals as a protest to war and poverty. Each chapter collects surplus food that would otherwise go to waste, then prepares community meals which are served for free to anyone who is hungry.
Here is the Los Angeles Food Not Bombs facebook group
The Los Angeles Dumpster Diving Meetup Group is a group you should definitely get involved with if you want to go out diving with fellow Angelinos.
And the Freegan.info website is loaded with helpful information for anyone wanting to get out diving.
Falling Fruit is not actually located in Los Angeles but they have created a global map where you can add the location of free food. This includes unharvested produce, wild food, and dumpsters full of food. Check it out! Their’s also this dumpster map that I found on google which is from 2009 but still has some great info.
Start your own Food Rescue program Boulder Food Rescue has made a guidebook that walks you through the steps of starting a bike-powered food rescue. That’s right, a food rescue program powered by bicycles. You can also start a rescue program in your campus kitchen with Food Recovery Network. Both of these programs are happy to help and so am I!
For a deeper look into food waste, detailed information on the problem and solutions, how to get involved, food rescue programs, dumpster diving, and more go to Rob’s Food Waste Activism and Dumpster Diving Resource Guide.
Lastly here is a list of most of the dumpsters I dove into in Los Angeles to help you be more efficient with your time at the dumpsters:
Hollywood/Beverly Hills area and then towards Culvers City
Ralphs – 260 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
In gated area; unlocked, easy to access, no food this time but could be a good spot
Trader Joe’s – 263 La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Locked tight, I think
CVS – 303 S. La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Gated area; unlocked; no food this time but could be a good spot
Whole Foods (Ogden) 6350 W 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90036
Easy access dumpsters – probably a good place to go, Went during the day and there were too many employees around
CVS 6360 W 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90036
Trader Joe’s – 175 S Fairfax Ave, Gilmore Station, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Accessible- no food this time but could be a good spot
CVS – 8490 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Bristol Farms – 9039 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048
Huge score of fresh produce! $300-$500 worth of food. The photo in the back of the van above is from here.
Ralphs – 9040 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048
Good score of rice, bread, pasta. Definitely a good spot. Easy to access
Whole Foods – 7871 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046
In locked and gated area; no go
Gelsons – 8330 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Bristol Farms – 7880 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Dumpsters accessible, but near the employee area — you’ll most likely have to go at night. The other Bristol Farms was great, so I’d check this for sure!
99 Cents Only – 6121 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Open, easy access, no food this time but could be a good spot
Ralphs – 5601 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Smart and Final – 5555 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Locked in chain link fence and couldn’t get in, but I could see the dumpster had a big box of good food in it
Smart and Final – 1835 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Open but messy; no food this time
CVS – 1843 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Open, easy access; had a bunch of packaged salads and sandwiches from The Cofee Bean next door in the dumpster
Fresh and Easy – 1788 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Locked, but you could climb over; no food this time
Vons – 9860 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Open, easy access but no food this time
Rite Aid – 9864 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Ralphs – 3827 Culver Ctr, Culver Center, Culver City, CA 90232
Open but no food this time
Rite aid – 3802 Culver Center St, Culver City, CA 90232
No dumpster found
Smart and Final Extra – 10113 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Easy access to dumpsters, probably nighttime only though — it was just too busy during the day
Haggen’s – 8985 Venice Blvd, Suite B, Los Angeles, CA 90015
CVS – 8985 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Pasadena area. Good area with most of the dumpsters being easy to access
Bristol Farms – 606 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030
Accessible but no food this time; just a couple cookies. This could be a really good dumpster
Trader Joe’s – 610 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105
Doubly locked; no go
Whole Foods – 465 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105
Accessible but just emptied. No food this time but could be a good spot.
Pavilions – 845 E California St, Pasadena, CA 91106
Unlocked and easy to access but just emptied
Fresh and Easy / Einstein Bagels – 603 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106
Just emptied, but easily accessible
Ralphs – 160 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101
Easy to access; found a big garbage bag full of bread from the bakery
Trader Joe’s – 345 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101
Walgreens – 310 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101
Walgreens – 670 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101
Need to hop over the gate, and it says no trespassing, but got a couple of bags of stuff of good stuff like Naked Juice, and bread.
CVS – 900 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104
Easy to access dumpster- Nine loaves of bread
Food 4 Less – 1329 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104
Rite Aid – 1421 East Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104
Locked in barbed wire cage
Vons – 1390 N. Allen Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104
Unlocked, easy access; full of trash no food
Trader Joe’s – 467 N Rosemead Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Easy to access in enclosed area; unlocked; about 30 or 40 tubs of hummus. I definitely recommend this spot.
Ralphs – 3601 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Easy access; full of trash; no food
Panera Bread – 3521 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Easy access; no food this time. Panera does donate in many locations but I’ve found many locations to have huge bags full of perfectly good bread
Whole Foods – 3751 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Easy access; pretty good score of boxed cheesecakes, and sweets. This is a great dumpster at times I would imagine. Dump truck came at 10:30 on Saturday.
Rite Aid – 3745 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Locked tight, may be pry-able
Sprouts – 39 N Rosemead Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Compactor. Sprouts are always really good if you can get in the dumpster
World Market – 3655 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Open, easy access; some food and home goods but the slashed the food packages
Smart and Final – 3299 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
In gated area; no go
Walgreens – 2376 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Compactor behind locked gate
Vons – 2355 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Forty bags of chips. This could be a good spot to go to.
CVS – 451 S Sierra Madre Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Easy access; no food today