Julianne Brady has been a dumpster diver for two years and retrieves more than 90 per cent of her weekly groceries from supermarket bins on the Sunshine Coast.
The 60-year-old discovered “freegan” living when times were tough financially, but it has evolved into an environmental and consumer awareness.
She said it was not as disgusting as you might think.
“I saw the quality and quantity of food that came out of bins and I couldn’t quite believe it,” Ms Brady said.
“Most of the food like bread and eggs, they’re all in containers or plastic in plastic bags in the bin, so none of that food actually touches the outside of that dumpster.”
Ms Brady said her collections — including truffle oil, exotic coffee, English jam, biscuits from Holland, fruit, vegetables and meat — supplied 90 per cent of her weekly food intake aside from treats like ice-cream which she preferred to buy.
Speaking in an online interview, Ms Brady said it was ludicrous to see so much waste.
“Think of all those food miles only to end up in landfill, it’s ridiculous.
“It’s a sign of a capital society gone crazy.”
Australian households throw out more than $8 billion worth of edible food annually, but the total value of food waste, including from restaurants and supermarkets, would be far higher.
Would you like some judgment with that?
Under the cover of darkness, Ms Brady scours the bins from large supermarket chains near closing time; partly so cold produce has not deteriorated and partly to avoid confrontation.
She is not ashamed of her lifestyle, but conscious of the stigma and judgment, so much so that if questioned, she says she is gathering chook food.
“They always have that argument that the food is not safe once it’s in the rubbish bin.
“There’s always a reason why this food’s been thrown out … but it’s no more risky than taking the food off the shelf.
“This food I get out of the dumpster, 10 minutes before would’ve been on the shelf and you would’ve paid $9 for it and I get it for nothing.”
Ms Brady is proud she is helping by not adding to a consumerist society, even to the point of maintaining a basic wardrobe of tie-dye shirts and black pants.
“I find it sad that so much food is wasted.
“If they find it sad that I get food out of bins, well that’s their prerogative,” the grandmother said.
“I would really like for people who are doing it hard to know about it … they might not think of it.”
Read the full article online at ABC News.