Monday, August 30, 2010

Stock up on free food

Emergencies like hurricanes and other natural disasters, and more unnatural disasters, like food and money shortages, should be enough to encourage us all to keep food safely stored for the possibilities.

It's expensive to go to the grocery store and stock up on food, though! And it may be too late to start a big stock up, if you're worried about a hurricane or you've lost your job.

Don't worry; there are still things you can do. We live in a wonderful world, where nature is generous. This time of year there is often produce that gets wasted because there is such a glut of it. It's not unusual to find food for free just for the asking.

Is there an apple tree overhanging the alley? A grape vine gracing a parking lot? Do you know someone who has been feeding squash to the chickens? Walnuts falling from a tree in the park? Go ahead... ask first, and then help yourself. Most of the time people are more than willing to give excess produce if they know who might want it.

Don't expect them to pick it for you and bring it to you, but use some initiative and go get it after you've asked. (If you go into a private garden, ask the owner to come with you or show you what you can pick.)

Wild plums grow around here just for the picking. Perhaps there are wild fruits and nuts where you are. Strawberries, blackberries, apples, plums, peaches and many more fruits grow wild across the nation. Walnuts, pecans, hickory nuts and many others grow wild. Know what they are and take advantage of them.

Go to a small grocery store and watch to see what day or days they pick through the produce. Ask if you can have the box of discarded vegetables "for your chickens" or whatever. You will be surprised at how much and what kind of produce gets thrown out, still useable.

America is still a nation rich in natural resources. Farms harvest tons and tons of food each year with large machinery which leaves a good portion in the fields. Ask a farmer if you can glean the field of onions or potatoes or carrots. You won't have any trouble picking up enough to do you for a year.

You can put this free food away to build your pantry. Learn to can if you don't know how. Learn to dehydrate and freeze whatever you can get your hands on. There could very well come a time when you'll be very glad that you did!


  1. We have a trash can outside our local grocery store, where they throw outdated and spoiled produce and bakery items. Their only stipulation is that we pick it up very regularly so it doesn't get nasty. Most of it goes to our chickens, but often half of it is still usable. I froze 4 lbs of butternut squash the other day, each squash just had a few small soft areas that I trimmed off. Yesterday's haul included 4 loaves of bread that was one day shy of outdating. The amount we collect is incredible. The trash can fills up just about every day!

  2. That's exactly what I mean. Food that's free for the taking. :)

  3. It is unbelievable that people can ever starve in this world when so much surplus is thrown onto piles, into bins and generally rotted away! Farmers flush milk that doesn't get to market down the street!

    I don't have the space to stock in my apartment in Cairo but if I ever settle back in USA or UK I will be stocking up.

  4. Part of the reason there is such waste is because of government control of production and price. Sometimes it's economically wiser to throw the food away than to market it. What a strange world we live in!

  5. This afternoon my family found a muscadine vine growing wild in the public park. It was full of juicy fruit, so we picked as many as we could hold. Free food! (We plan to save the seeds to grow our own vines at home.)

  6. sadly, many of our stores, here, have their clean away bins (dumpsters) locked so foods and other goods cannot be rescued... :(