Saving Food From Dum(b)sters And A Coveted Cup Of Tea


The last time I went shopping with a friend I was just browsing while they picked up some groceries. We went to Quest Food Exchange which sells food that is donated as surplus, mislabeled or near expiry food. In other words, they sell food that would normally end up in a dum(b)ster.

Every day, thousands of pounds of good quality food goes to waste, simply because it is part of a surplus that cannot be sold, or because it is oddly sized, blemished, nearing its expiry date, or because the packaging is slightly damaged. For example, if a flat of canned goods is damaged in shipping, it may be cheaper for a grocer to dispose of the entire flat, instead of paying someone to sort out the dented tins.

Quest Doesn’t just rescue nutritious food, they sell the food to people who need it. This is a win win situation that more communities need to employ.

Quest Food Exchange: Food Programs to Reduce Hunger with Dignity

Quest is British Columbia’s largest not-for-profit food exchange program. We offer access to affordable and healthy food choices for those facing barriers to this basic necessity. In partnering with food suppliers, social service agencies, and community stakeholders, we have fine-tuned our social enterprise model to become a hub of food redistribution in the Lower Mainland. Our programs are seen as essential to marginalized individuals as they transition themselves towards self-sufficiency.

I personally would love to shop at a grocery store that sells rescued food. It sure would beat dum(b)ster diving for dinner! I am appalled at how much food our modern society throws out. The day I went to Quest the shelves were filled with many high end items that are way out of my budget. There was fresh veggies and frozen meats and fish. There was organic dairy items and packaged items like organic, gluten-free, vegan awesomeness that would normally go for an arm and a leg in a regular supermarket. I was in awe of the experience. I was humbled by the changes people are trying to make to save us from ourselves as a society.

This brings me to today. It has been a month since I stepped foot in a traditional grocery store. I receive my weekly community supported agriculture box, and I have been mostly bartering for eggs and splurged on a few jars of goat’s milk which I promptly made into the most delectable Farmer’s cheese.

I biked up to my local grocery store and wandered in walking past the cheeses in the deli section carefully noting the price of the bocconchini and goat cheeses. I moved on to looking at the yogurts, where I stared uncomfortably long at a container of Greek yogurt (I have not had cow’s milk in a long while) and completely avoided looking at the fresh fish or isle of canned tuna even though I am down to only a tin or two which I use for special occasions like my hiking trip to make tuna salad sandwiches. I felt like a kid in a candy store and everything seemed like a luxury. I ended up going down the tea isle. I have been out of tea. In fact I have been using one tea bag to make a pitcher of tea and frankly I have been reusing my already abused tea bag until it barely tints the water. I was standing in the isle holding the box of tea I so desperately wanted. It was Tega organic, locally owned, fair trade, caffeine free, pure green roobios and it was on sale. It was on sale and still would cost $5.49 for 24 sachets. That works out to just under 23 cents a day and I am trying to decide if I can afford this luxury item; this little box of tea that will bring me many coveted cups of joy. I finally committed to buying it. I almost hugged it as I walked up to the checkout. I was so excited to have this naughty special treat. (I figured the tea would last longer and give more enjoyment than a container of yogurt or a package of cheese). I did not even bike straight home. I just tucked the little box of tea into my backpack and rode around for a while excited over my purchase. Tomorrow I will have tea and enjoy every drop.  Life is really making me take a closer look at my relationship with food.

The cost of food in the grocery store has a higher price than I can really afford on numerous levels.


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