My friend Dane and I are on a mission to show how much food we waste in the United States, and we know that we’ve got to come up with some creative ways to get people’s attention in the United States. So we decided to make a huge public display of what we uncovered in the dumpsters of Madison, Wisconsin. In a matter of 48 hours of casual dumpster diving we managed to collect thousands of dollars worth of perfectly good food that you see here. Looking at this photo myself, it’s still hard even for me to believe that every bit of this food came from dumpsters.
Over the last three days I’ve been Dumpster Diving Across Wisconsin to raise awareness about our massive food waste issue here in the United States. Previous to this adventure I’ve been Dumpster Diving Across the USA for a year and a half so I expected this week to be a pretty standard for me. I also expected my home state of Wisconsin to do a good job of not wasting food.
But I’ve been completely blown away by what I’ve found in the supermarket dumpsters. Every dumpster I have opened has been FULL of perfectly good food. In a front page La Crosse Tribune story I did a few days ago, I confidently said, “If there’s a dumpster, there’s food in it” and so far I have proved that to be right time and time again. In just three days of biking across Wisconsin living purely on dumpster food, I have found tens of thousands of dollars worth of food. All of this at a time when 1 in 7 Americans is food insecure. This waste of food is also a huge waste of water, fossil fuels, energy, and landfill space and is a root cause to many of the world’s most pressing issues.
Dumpsters in the United States are full of perfectly good food, and my childhood friend Dane Gottschall and I are out to show this by bicycling across Wisconsin fueled 100% by food we find in dumpsters.
This might sound crazy, but what’s even more nuts is that we throw away $165 billion worth of food each year in the United States. This is slightly more than we spend on our entire public education system from kindergarten through university. All of this while 1 in 7 Americans are food insecure.
We’re going to show you that there is so much food in Wisconsin’s dumpsters that we can cycle clear across the state powered by these supermarket treasure chests. Through this adventure we promise to inform you on the food waste problem in the United States in an entertaining and inspirational manner while giving simple tips on how you can be a part of the solution.
She moved out to San Diego with me a month ago when I got back from my bike ride across the United States and we are having an awesome time living together.
Just a few years ago if you’d have asked either one of us if we’d ever live together we’d surely have said, “No way, man!” Now here we are living in San Diego, California, far away from the small town in Northern Wisconsin where we grew up in a house packed full of four kids and one mom that all had trouble getting along in the cramped living quarters. I’ve got to say I love her and I love living with her.
06/15 (Days 57)
I woke up abruptly to the sound of rain. I thought I had left my bag open on the deck and that it was getting soaking wet but then realized it was right next to the couch I was sleeping on in the living room. It was gloomy and cold morning but it could have been worse. I figured the rain would probably stop a lot of people from joining us for the ride and I was ok with that, as I desired a relaxing day with close friends. Mitch, Casey, Brent, and I got down to Bradford beach at 10:30, just 1:30 after we were supposed to get there to meet anyone that might be joining on the ride. The rain had let up and although it still wasn’t a warm day it was still pleasant. And one guy from Milwaukee named Bruno joined us!
Today I finally visited Growing Power which is something I’ve been wanting to do for years now since I first saw them featured on the documentary Fresh. They are a 1% for the Planet recipient and through my Off the Grid adventure across the United States I am raising funds for them to keep on doing the amazing things they are doing. They have grown into a huge movement over the last few years so the amount I raise for them will be a tiny fraction of what they receive each year but I know they will put whatever I give to them to good use.
06/13 (Day 55)
I was up at 4:30 AM and started my day with a stunning sunrise as I pedaled over to the Monona Terrace. ABC channel 27 was meeting me there to air story on the Wake up Wisconsin morning show. I wasn’t exactly excited to be up at that time but it was worth it in my mind to spread some inspiration to the Madison area. We were shooting live with the capital building in the backdrop but the equipment wasn’t getting signal so we missed the first segment at 5:50. We moved closer to the lake for the 6:25 and had more technical difficulties. The third attempt we ended up in a much less ideal spot with noisy traffic and this time the signal was working. Besides the fact that I was drowned out by the traffic I was happy with the story that aired. Here is a link: www.youtube.com/
06/12 (Day 54)
The morning wasn’t much to speak of. Lars and John were off at work and I lounged around the house on my own until nearly 3:00. I still had a full battery on my laptop from the day before and I had a lot to do online so I used it until it was nearly dead. It was cloudy all morning but the air was warm and humid. Rain was in the forecast but not until after 5:00 when my outdoor gathering would begin. I watched the weather mulling over whether to move the gathering to an indoor location but waited until last minute to make the call. I was pretty certain it was going to rain though because if I have a gathering it’s pretty much going to rain, even if I’m in San Diego where it almost never does. My last five or so gatherings have been rained on. I’m not sure how to take that. Mother Nature doesn’t like to take it easy on me. It could be taken very negatively but maybe it is a message that it’s not going to be easy to create a healthier planet but I’ve got to push through the challenges. I ask myself what the message is every time and I’m not sure what it is but I at least try to take the rain for what it is and give gratitude to the earth for the fresh water.
06/11 (Day 53)
I left Grant’s house at 3:30 as the clouds rolled in partially covering up the sun. It had been a hot day, 85+ degrees, and this cooled it off a bit. A few sprinkles fell from the sky and the humid air was full of vigor and life. Leaving town I was tremendously grateful to have spent time with great friends and rested my drained body. I stopped behind the grocery store on the way out and loaded my bag full of blackberries, apples, nectarines, spinach, and melons. This ten pounds of fruit would last me for about twenty-four hours.
06/10 (Day 52)
I woke up to the sun after another comfortable night in bed. Wow, the pleasure it is to sleep in a bed in a room that I have to myself. It is certainly a pleasure that I often take for granted. Although since I do travel so often and rent out my room in San Diego, I very much appreciate it when I do have my own room at home.