Archive for August, 2011

Masoninblue and Crane-Station dive a food dumpster in Western KY.

About a month ago, a reader from Poland left this comment on my YouTube channel, in response to our first-ever diving video, at the charity dumpster:

That’s possible only in America!

In Polish dumpsters we have only stinky dump, and i mean it, just dump.

What you have here it’s not dumpster as i know it, just place when people leave useful stuff.

I think i’ll just move to America and live from Dumpster diving, it would higher standard of live than i have right now. 😛

kapusniaczek111 1 month ago

I believe that we need to keep in mind in this country the amount of usable waste that we send to the landfills each day. I also urge folks, at the very least, to be mindful of plastic bags and reduce their number in the trash, and to become familiar with your local recycle center or box, and use it when you remember to.

The above quote was a wake up call for me, and a reminder to be aware of and grateful for what we do have, even though we consider ourselves poor. This quote brought new meaning to the ‘give us this day our daily bread’ part of the prayer.

We have been consistently eating out of dumpsters since December or January. I had always been a scrap metal diver, and I could not really wrap my mind around food diving. Once we started doing this, we were amazed.

My parents are in their late eighties, and they are aghast; having lived through the depression when there were no dumpsters, my parents are avid recyclers, in Seattle, a recycle-friendly city.

We are fortunate to live in a small town in this regard. When I last visited Seattle and looked at dumpsters there, a good many were off-limits. Whole Foods in the university district, for example, has a no-access compacting dumpster that I am certain contains an unbelievable amount of good, nutritious food.

When Masoninblue became a ninety-niner, we had to make this adjustment, because the local food banks are overwhelmed, limiting visits to just two each calendar year. Further, we do not qualify for food stamps; he receives early social security retirement, and so we supplement it with discarded items (if we lose that we will have to find a home in the street).

Our food dumpster has a pretty steady stream of visitors, human and otherwise, and the staff at the store does not mind if divers park closer to the box than we do. We are in the habit of parking up the little hill, as you can see.

The heat is always a factor, especially with meats and other perishables, so we have an idea always, sometimes to the hour, when things will arrive. In the winter, all of the meats are frozen.

We have been so blessed with food that we now limit what we bring home. Today we declined any of the bread, because we simply do not eat it. I took two cantaloupes, one box of blueberries, some onions, some lemons, and some other sealed fruit-with-jello cups.

We also tended to our dumpster honey bees. They live in a nearby hive, I assume, and they love to come to the dumpster and gorge themselves on fruit juices. I have a photo that I will share another day.

The bees are not shy like the mockingbirds and the squirrel; they do not leave when we get there. Today I opened several packages of blueberries for the bees, especially if I saw juice in the box. They waited patiently and then settled onto the berries, almost before I could open the boxes.

We also keep an eye on the bees, and have, on several occasions, moved heavy 30-gallon black bags that were carelessly tossed in on top of everything. We move these bags and make sure ‘no bee is left behind,’ or trapped.

Finally, I misspoke in this video: The bread is good until August 20, 2011 (a few days from now), and there were more blueberries than strawberries there. It is almost the end of the season for blueberries, I think.

For vegetables, we have been living on broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini and cauliflower, for the most part. In all, we are very happy with the foods, and while we are sad that so much goes to waste, we remain thankful.

I envision a world someday without waste and without a need to go looking.

Prison Food Privatization And Aramark

Posted: August 14, 2011 in Neutral
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Before Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY) came into office, the Fletcher (R) administration privatized prison food for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the contract went to Aramark.

When I was at PeWee in late 2008 and 2009, we ate the Aramark diet.

The diet consists of a weekly average of 2800 calories per day. Anything fresh is extremely rare, and may consist of some occasional shredded lettuce.

Since calories are cheaper than nutrition in this country, even given the large number of calories in this diet, I found myself constantly hungry, and so I supplemented the fat/starch Aramark diet with commissary.

I gained thirty pounds in prison. That was the heaviest I have ever been, and although I have since lost the weight, I was considered skinny by Southern prison standards at that time. Obesity is common in the women’s prison, and it complicates other health conditions such as diabetes, heart problems and orthopedic problems.

Here is an example of the Aramark diet:

Breakfast:

1 c juice (not real juice of course)
1 c hot cereal
2 biscuitrs
2 sausage patties
1/2 oz margarine
1 c coffee
2 sugars

Lunch:

1 sl meat and cheese pizza
1 c spaghetti w/tomato sauce
1/2 c canned green beans
1 sl iced cake
1 c iced tea w/sugar

Dinner:

8 oz cheeseburger casserole
3/4 c canned peas
1/2 c canned greens
2 sl white bread
1/2 ox margarine
2 cookies
1 c fruit drink

Um, okay. There is a note at the bottom of the menu that says this diet meets the daily RDA requirement for 19 to 50 year olds, so that does not take into account the large population of people over 50 (and even over 80 in fact) that Kentucky is locking up these days.

There is another note that says that applesauce will be offered as a substitute for iced cake. No it isn’t. They stopped all that, and I covered it in another blog.

This year, a lawmaker asked the Kentucky Attorney General to investigate the huge private prison food supplier, Aramark.

Here are some of the issues:

According to the audit, Aramark sometimes used margarine and other condiments to make up to 300 calories of its daily requirement of 2,800 calories per inmate. Inmates said margarine was used even in meals such as soup or peanut butter sandwiches, auditors wrote.

Aramark also made last-minute menu substitutions, such as giving inmates four brownie pieces instead of meat; reported using less beans, pasta, rice and potatoes than recipes called for; and kept leftover food in storage beyond acceptable time limits, auditors wrote.

Then there’s this:

At issue is a provision in Aramark’s contract, awarded in 2004 by then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher, that required the company to share internal records with state officials for the purposes of financial audit or program review.

In their report, state auditors said Aramark refused to provide cost-related records they requested to determine whether price adjustments were justified and to evaluate concerns regarding a decline in the quality and quantity of food, among their other purposes.

Read more: http://www.kentucky.com/2011/01/10/1593198/lawmaker-asks-attorney-general.html#ixzz1V1GKQvCs

If you do not find this too interesting, you might be interested to know that Aramark is now involved in school meals as well. Here is Aramark, advertizing its program in Houston:

Do you think it may at least be possible that the giant private food corporation may eventually show its true colors in schools as well?

Bridge over creek

I may have mentioned that I enjoy creek walking. This is a bridge over a creek that we often visit to take treats to the fish.

Here is the close-up of the large crack in the cement, that runs from the top of the bridge to the bottom:

Bridge close-up

We would not want to go all crazy in this country and create any jobs to repair our infrastructure though, would we?