Last week, a reader sent me a link to this article: ‘Theft by finding’: Woman who took potato waffles and pies thrown out by Tesco is handcuffed and charged with stealing.
If you don’t feel like reading the article, which I assume you won’t, I’ll paraphrase: A power outage led a Tesco branch in the UK to throw out a fucking ton of food. A 21-year-old woman took some of it. Police showed up at her door, handcuffed her, and hauled her off. For theft.
As you might recall from my recent post about dumpster legality, this is not an uncommon occurrence—dumpster divers get hassled by the police or charged with theft by grocery stores all the time. Despite the overwhelming public opinion that this is absurd. Despite grocery stores who say “Every little bit helps” (this is apparently Tesco’s charity tag line). Edible food is being thrown away, and the people who take matters into their own hands, who save food from the landfill and fill their bellies (often because their pocketbooks don’t give them much of a choice), are criminalized.
Quoth the article: “A Tesco spokesman said: ‘We are assisting the police with their inquiries. We seek to minimise waste in all our stores and where possible will seek to reuse and recycle it.'”
But you know what the hitch is? They would never, ever donate food being thrown out after a power outage to anyone. You know why? Because that would also be illegal (not to mention an extreme insurance liability). Well-intentioned as food expiry dates and safety regulations are, they make it illegal for grocery stores to do the right thing, and those stores, in turn, make it illegal for the rest of us.
Photo © Tara Stewart. The Click Clack Gorilla in her natural habitat. Don’t arrest me Mr. Policeman, I was only on the dumpster for purposes of the photo shoot… If you like Tara’s camera work, she’s selling some of her prints over on her blog Fish in the Water in order to finance the tools she needs to get started on some small-scale farming.