Re-Grow Roots

Learning to live harmoniously in Missouri.


Food Waste!!! Dumpster dive…

Around 35 MILLION TONS of food waste was generated in the US in 2010, and 97% ended up in landfills or incinerators. This is a statistic taken from the EPA. A whole LOT of that food could have ended up in the mouths of hungry people.

When I moved from Texas to California about 4 years ago, I found a really awesome girl to stay with through a website called If you’re a traveler and have not heard of couchsurfing, look into it! She exposed me to dumpster diving for the first time and took me to Trader Joes in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I couldn’t believe the AMAZING FOOD they just throw away like garbage!! They throw away a dozen eggs if one is cracked! WHAT?! We must have gotten 12 dozen eggs! There were cheeses, sprouted grain bread, papayas (better with age), peppers……


washing up veggies

Now I live in Branson, Missouri where there are only a few grocery stores and they all have trash compactors. I still find a way to get free produce though! Once or twice a month we (Carlos and I) drive our butts up to Springfield to shop at the farmers market. We also stop by a health food grocer to purchase the items that we couldn’t get at the farmers market, and we pick up their “compost” for our community garden! They take their aging produce and donate it to local farms to be turned into compost, but much of it is still perfectly edible! So I take it home, wash the good stuff, then take all the rest to the garden.


headed for the compost pile

There have been times when I have gone dumpster diving and brought home a BUSHEL of organic apples! We made apple juice, apple sauce, baked apples, and added them to salads. We once picked up compost and brought home 10 mangos, 8 bunches of asparagus, and 40 oranges! Other times we only get a little edible goodness.. but it’s totally worth it! To divert healthy, organic food waste from landfills is incredibly rewarding!


cabbage, celery, sweet potatoes, apple, orange, banana

How YOU can get FREE FOOD!

  • check local dumpsters
  • talk to store managers to see if they would be interested in starting a composting, or better yet a FOOD BANK program
  • talk to local farms at the end of the market to see if they offer donations

Many stores are scared of liability issues due to donating food waste, but there are some stores that have already started doing it and they are blazing the trail for more! The “good samaritan law” should protect grocery stores from any liability after they have donated the food. To see whether a vegetable is actually bad or not is just common sense.

There is a really cool movie about dumpster diving on netflix that I highly recommend! It’s called DIVE!

This post was featured on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday


How to Build a Compost Pile

ImageCarlos, my soul partner best friend ever, and myself – We built a super simple, inexpensive, and very effective compost pile today! Cost – $18 and we still have 45 feet of chicken wire left! oh & a bit of manual labor!



< Supplies >

  • chicken wire (We bought a 50 foot roll for $8
  • 2 metal posts (Same aisle as the chicken wire fencing at Lowe’s)
  • hammer
  • wire clippers

Find a nice tucked away place to put your compost pile, but easy access from your kitchen! Hammer the metal posts / stakes into the ground a foot or 2, make sure it isn’t too wobbly.

Then take your chicken wire and make a nice circle shape around the stakes. You can attach the chicken wire to itself by wrapping little pieces of wire. (Oh I just realized how much simpler I could explain this with a video! )

A word about compost. SIMPLICITY . Everything will naturally decompose over time, no matter what it is. Produce, grass, hay, manure, leaves, these things break down so easily! It’s good to have a nice balance of “green stuff” like living things with color (food scraps, fresh cut grass) & “brown stuff” like … things that are brown (hay, leaves). Manure, althought brown, is considered a “green” because it’s more alive… LOTS of bacteria activity, microscopic life. Let’s put it this way.

The more microbes, the more alive it is!




Linked up at: Eat Make Grow