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Too Hip for Food Stamps

Leaving snotty notes for dumpster owners is the best way to insure that they'll be locked up next time you want to go digging.
Last night some dumpster divers came by the place where I work. We informed them that they could not dive. They asked why, and we gave them the regular litany: obvious liability concerns (broken glass, raw meat juice, slipping hazard, etc.), items we choose to place in the dumpster have already been culled for salvageable, donatable items, some divers leaving the dumpster area trashed in the past, and rudeness and even some physical confrontations with past divers.

We went out to the dumpsters later and found a note. It says:

When you first moved in here, you agreed to Peoples Food Co-op's request that all salvageable food products remain outside of dumpsters. Please respect that. Mad Loving Expectations, PAX.

Well, PAX, we do regularly cull salvageable food items rather than just sending them to the landfill. We have a list of worthy organizations that come by on a regular basis to collect these items, including Food Not Bombs, Generous Ventures, and Migrant Laborer Support. Volunteers for these and other organizations come by daily to collect these donations. Meanwhile, food itesm that we have determined are not salvageable are sent to the dumpsters. During the course of the day, some food items are available back by our receiving area, and in the past, if you asked politely, we would always happy to let folks go through them. Unfortunately, our friendliness has been taken for granted, and the well has dried up.

PAX, we never agreed to the above request, which makes it sound as if salvageable food items from our dumpsters will find their way to the shelves at Peoples (I know this cannot be, as I am a regular shopper and big-time fan of the Co-op--you must be a Peoples staffer, PAX, albeit an ignorant one who should know better than to cite your workplace in connection with the trashcans of another business). My guess is that for some reason, you feel "entitled" to salvaged items. You are not. I would much rather know that our salvaged food items are feeding the homeless, the destitute, or back-busting migrant laborers instead of somebody who thinks s/he's too hip for food stamps.

The result of this note being left on our dumpsters is that they will now be locked at night. good job, PAX! You just ruined it for everybody!

mystified... 18.Mar.2005 15:06

people's staffer

...about what the reference to Peoples's could possibly mean.

3029 SE 21st

whoa there 18.Mar.2005 15:41

pAx regicidaltendancies@gmail.com

Yeah, I left the note because when your store came in there trying to gentrify an already suffering neighborhood, People's requested that you leave you leave food that was salvageable outside of dumpsters. I don't work at people's, but I know a lot of the people who work there, and several have let me know about the agreement. People's didn't want your stores overconsumption to profit people's, but they wanted to make sure you weren't running in there and being the wasteful liberals you now appear to be.

as for the food going to charity; your reasoning is CLEARLY flawed.

"I would much rather know that our salvaged food items are feeding the homeless, the destitute, or back-busting migrant laborers instead of somebody who thinks s/he's too hip for food stamps."

a dumpster is sure a good place to get that food to marginalized communities isn't it? If you were donating the food to charity and we went back there and took it, you'd have a leg to stand on. Unfortunately for you, you were being wasteful liberals and so we thought we'd help you out with that.

That dumpster was the most incredibly savageable dumpster I had been to in a long time. Whole bags of onions, of which one onion had started sprouting and the whole bag had been thrown out. Pears that looked better than the ones you were selling. Bags of lettuce expiring that day. Lovely, really.

as for being "too hip for food stamps", I could quip back with information about my living situation, but to do so would bring the argument to a personal level. A personal level is not the level on which I take issue, it is institutional starvation on the backs of the gratuitus waste of a hipster-ass store bringing heirarchy into a neighborhood that was otherwise shopping without it.

As for the lock on the dumpster...you locked the dumpster... not me... you personally. Should I feel bad about you keeping food from marginalized people? Is that your intention? To punish me? Fuck you. Expect your fence to be hopped. Expect your locks to be cut. I, for one, won't stand by to be attacked by the very person keeping great food out of the mouths of those who come in search of it. I am an anti-capitalist freedom fighter, and if I'll back down to your kind, what good am I?

I could understand locking the dumpsters as a result of a beligerant confrontation, but when you came back there and asked us to leave, we packed up what we had and left. We always leave dumpsters cleaner than we found them, as per the laws of dumpstering. We were extremely amiable with you and left almost immediately after being asked to leave.

Wallowing in shattered expectations,


We call bullshit! 18.Mar.2005 15:48


Quote from above text: "Unfortunately, our friendliness has been taken for granted..."

How in thee hell did you come to that conclusion, Cthulhu?

More from above quote: "...and the well has dried up."

Well then, be as mean as ya wanna be. That note wasn't even snotty, where do you get off bein' so fucking smug?!! Also, food stamps are for ppl who don't understand the basics of DIY and don't want to accept a meager pittance from the FEDERAL FUCKING GOVERNMENT.

Furthermore, why would you attempt to make a public spectacle of such a valuable member of OUR community here for leaving a simple note? This is just vindictive meanness, and gratuitous self-righteousness on your part. Shame on you.
We, and many others in THIS community, know PAX personally and support co. I'd have done the same thing, and knowing PAX, with the same intentions as co had- none of which would be snotty, rude, or with any ill intent whatsoever.

Consider yourself shitlisted.

P.S.- Another quote: "you must be a Peoples staffer, PAX, albeit an ignorant one who should know better than to cite your workplace in connection with the trashcans of another business"
How very assumptive of you. Co doesn't work there, nor state any connection with People's whatsoever. I believe you should keep your mouth shut and not go "trashing" (pun fully intended) someone else's business in such a public forum.

Good day.

Hey you guys 18.Mar.2005 16:23

Emmanuel Goldman

Declare a moral victory and shake hands.
This bickering helps nobody.

Defending oneself and other revolutionary ideals... 18.Mar.2005 16:56

wee raven

Defending oneself is certainly not bickering by any stretch of the imagination and I would encourage you to be less cynical.

As far as the above statement is concerned I could not be more disgusted at a company that claimes to not only cherish and respect people, but also claims to be a respectful member of the community. Do you think that a large company moving into a neighborhood such as... well any of them really and gentrifying the crap out of it is benificial or respectful? I don't feel very repected, honestly I feel insulted that you would suggest that pAx should get food stamps in order to try to fit into your snobby consumer culture rather than try to reuse things that you have wasted... yes you read that right WASTED (interesting really to see how much you waste for a company that supposedly prides itself on sustainablility.)

I am done now... I just thought I would throw my two fists in.

Ruined it for everybody? 18.Mar.2005 17:53


OK, so you wasted your time writing your piece, now I will waste some of mine (because I have the time -- thanks Uncle Scam!).


I don't know any of these people, but still I would like to comment.

My first thought is, This is not "news". This is just petty, vindictive (in a petty way), spiteful, silly... and so on -- in other words, typical American reactions.

My second thought is, Ruined it for everybody? What is this, the fucking army (where the group is punished for the mistakes of individuals)? If one person really was "snotty", why not just exclude that person, if you really need to be so drastic. And since you might say it's not feasible in this scenario to exclude an individual, I think that even if there are a few problems from time to time with particular individuals (and PAX does not seem to be one of these), it's still more important to "allow" people in, to reclaim the waste (to "cull" the excess, as it were). Of course, if this "snotty" note is what you consider a "problem", I wonder how much of a problem you (or your store) really has.

I guess on the other hand, you can just lump everyone together... it's much easier.

Why is that people have to be so polite? Why does someone have to kiss your ass to reclaim some waste, to try to make some difference. I can see why divers should keep a dumpster area clean, but I can't see why they should have to "ask politely", or even ask at all. You talk about your "friendliness" -- you sound like some petty feudal lord ("I have bestowed this benevolence upon my people"); maybe you wish you were one. Why don't you and people like you get off your trip?

You have no right to grant access. You have no right to control.

Tell me why PAX or anyone else isn't entitled? Some people are it seems, and others aren't. Is this categorization arbitrary? I mean, how do you know? Or, how do _you_ decide? What are the values that inform your thinking on this? I think we're _all_ entitled. Food is not a right granted by the state you know. Or corporations. (Or by you!) And corporations are not entitled to create scarcity or to waste and destroy for their greed (at least they _shouldn't_ be entitled...)

Also, just because someone could (and how do you know?) get food stamps, why should s/he? Using food stamps runs somewhat (or maybe a lot, depending on how you look at it) counter to the dumpstering ethic (since then you'd be buying new food, or relying too heavily on a system that you would like to escape from).

The liability argument. It's tired. I don't think dumpster divers need your protectionist concern. Maybe that concern would be better directed elsewhere -- except that it's not the main concern anyway. It's just some bullshit good cop/bad cop tactic. "Yeah, you know, we sympathize with what you're doing here, it's just this liability thing. You understand. Thanks."

You said, "...makes it sound as if salvageable food items from our dumpsters will find their way to the shelves at Peoples..." Whubbu what? Does this deserve a response? No, not really. The "snotty" note in no way implies any such thing. What a ridiculous suggestion. And in your parenthetical aside where a person "...should know better than to cite your workplace in connection with the trashcans of another business..." it seems that you're the one connecting businesses and trashcans and other businesses. The note was left in place where maybe a few people would read it whereas your post has been left here in a public forum. (I notice, BTW, that above commentors, who obviously know where you work, have not named the place, and though I'm curious, I won't ask.)

One last thing, Good job, Cthulhu! You made yourself look like a fool! ("...the well has dried up." Ha ha ha! That's a good one.)

PS Right or wrong, I myself am not too hip (or too proud) for food stamps.

Message to the original poster of above article on newswire 18.Mar.2005 18:30


what on earth do being "Hip",

and "Food Stamps",

have to do with each other?

(is being on food stamps "Hip"? have you ever been on them?)

You ruined it, we did not 18.Mar.2005 18:38


Cthulhu, I'm sorry you feel the need to lock your dumpster. I thought we were respectful dumpsterers. When you gave us your list of reasons why we couldn't dumpster we listened and started packing up our stuff while calmly explaining that we would never make a mess or be confrontational to any of the store employees. In fact, there were a couple rotten apples on the ground that I picked up. I picked up your litter! We also cheerily greeted other employees when they came out before you. We are respectful people and we like to see dumpsters stay unlocked so people can use what they need instead of having perfectly edible food go to waste.

Telling us to get food stamps rather than dumpster is a silly idea that completely misses the point. I hate the government and I'm not going to accept it's money so I can participate in this capitalist system. I would rather reduce waste while feeding myself than buy something at a store and create more waste.

That note we left was the most pleasant and non-confrontational way we could think of to gently remind you of your agreement. If our information about People's was incorrect, I apologize. I still don't understand how a little note could make you lock your dumpster. As pAx said, if we left the place trashed or acted like assholes I could see you locking it up, but on the contrary, we were friendly and polite.

I find it a little hard to believe that you went through that food before tossing it out. I found countless pieces of fruit that were spotless and pounds and pounds of onions (among other things) that were in excellent shape. I don't understand how you determine what food is "not salvagable" because 50% of that food could still be sitting on your shelves in perfect condition. Folks would be paying money for food you thought was garbage.

I enjoyed a dumpstered banana last night, a pear for breakfast, two apples for lunch, and this afternoon I made pesto with the big bag of basil you threw out. My mom had one of your "not salvagable" yams for lunch and said it was magnificant.

I could be chewing you out big time right now. I am angry at you, Cthulhu, but my comrades have already done a good job showing how fucked up your logic is so instead I decided to calmly explain why I think you should leave the dumpsters unlocked for all.


Far be it from me... 18.Mar.2005 18:39


...to be the firestarter here (HAHAHA!!)...

but the business in question is the "Seven Corners" location of New Seasons, located at 1954 SE Division St.

It's funny, because I myself being a "dumpster diver", have always had MORE than pleasant experiences at New Seasons (this location and others), including friends of mine having employees come out and actually GIVE THEM things like perfectly good bread.

I said it before, I'll say it again---

Shame on you.

Here's an idea 18.Mar.2005 19:44


I know that a similar disagreement happened at Wild Oats on 28th and Burnside a year or so ago.

Some jerk at Wild Oats put a HUGE lock on their dumpsters with a mean note for divers, and the next day, the lock was so jammed with junk (think aerosol glue, or toothpicks...be creative) that they had to hire a locksmith to come cut it off and it took forever.

I also know that the security director at Wild Oats who decided to lock the dumpster was fired for being overzealous in enforcing security.

Do they owe us a living? 18.Mar.2005 19:48

Of course they fuckin' do!

Nobody owes you anything, not even their garbage. And just because you're eating out of capitalism's asshole doesn't mean you're any less dependent on it. You just have fewer choices than those who provide for themselves. Now you've got one less.

No one "owes" us anything 18.Mar.2005 20:24


Eating out of the asshole of capatalism may or may not mean we're "dependent" on what you are calling capatalism, but it definitely means we're contributing less to its ill effects. The immediate effect is that we're giving less money to the system. Less obvious effects include not having to work as much and thereby paying less or no taxes. (Around $7500 per year is considered poverty for an individual, which means you don't pay any tax.)

The dependency question is trickier, but I would think being resourceful and willing to do things that aren't official sanctioned or taught by the system does reduce dependency to some degree.

Furthermore, who said anybody is "owed" anything? Just because you're mad about your pointless job and stupid, frustrating life doesn't mean you have to go and get all pissy about it. Or maybe you should get pissy about it -- just blame the right causes and don't point your morally superior finger at us.

I think it's cool 18.Mar.2005 21:36


That someone can respond to a note left on a dumpster and continue communicating here.

bad day at new seasons 19.Mar.2005 00:33


Since the dumpster has been unlocked in the past, I'll bet someone has in fact been making a mess, but did cthulhu really believe he was confronting the guilty party? If the dumpster is open 24/7 that doesn't neccessarily mean everyone going through it is going to be responsible. In this neigborhood, it seems like there's enough intelligent, concerned people who could put their heads together and come up with a plan that work for the store and those who want to conserve.

It'd be interesting to have some background on this person, cthulhu. His reaction is as though he hadn't realized what neighborhood he was working in. Wonder what irked him off about you people in particular...seems to like the FNB folks. Maybe it's some kind of class distinction issue. Seems kind of bad to go jumping fences and messing up locks until some cool heads give a try at getting the situation worked out.

It's no surprize that a store like that would throw good stuff out. To get their target market, things have to be flawless.

Curious 19.Mar.2005 00:37


Curious though that Cthulhu has yet to say anything past the original complaint.

No one "owes" us anything, pt. ii 19.Mar.2005 01:01

You owe me...

...an explanation.

You said it "...doesn't mean you're any less dependent on it", implying that we're all dependent, including yourself I would guess.

Then you said "...those who provide for themselves", implying that some people provide for themselves and are therefore not dependent.

So I'm confused. What're ya try'n ta say, huh?

No one here (in this country) is independent. No one provides for him/herself. It's a ridiculous notion. We all rely, willingly or not, on the all-consuming infrastructure that was already here when we were born. You can't even provide for yourself if you want to (and I doubt _you_ want to).

You can reduce your impact though...

Step 1. Stop regurgitating that tired old work ethic rhetoric.

Well... 19.Mar.2005 03:31


I don't like taken shit from anybody at work either -- isn't working bad enough --and a note in the dumpster was sort of a snotty way to go. I don't blame Cthulhu one bit for being upset. If some shithead gets snotty with me at work, I get rid of the asshole. No one owes dumpster divers anything. If they let you go through their garbage its cause they want to, not because they have to.

Do they owe us a living? 19.Mar.2005 08:19

Of course they fuckin' do!

Just an FYI, I have nothing to do with this petty squabble except being annoyed by the whining of the self-absorbed.

Explanation: You're no less dependent on it - in fact, you are probably more dependent on it - than anyone who actively participates in capitalism, so stop being self-righteous.

Dependent on capitalism? maybe, not really though 19.Mar.2005 15:11


I don't think I am dependent on capitalism when I dumpster. I am taking advantage of capitalism's byproducts.

If you want to prove that I am dependent on capitalism when I dumpster, it seems that no matter what I do I will always be a little dependent on capitalism because it surrounds me. (until the revolution, that is.) I try to become as independent from capitalism as possible. I see dumpstering food rather than purchasing it as a way to not participate is the capitalism system. I realize that I am using the system and therefore relying on it, but I am not helping to make it bigger, just feeding off it's byproducts.

I choose to get some of my food by dumpstering because it's easy, free, fun, and it reduces waste. I also have a garden that I am dependent on for some of my food. It's also true that I sometimes shop at the store. I am dependent on the store for that section of my diet. I'm dependent on my friend's as well. They feed me when I go to their houses. I am depedent on so many food sources, many of them non-capitalist. I try to participate in mutual aid, non-capitalism economies like bartering, gifting, scavanging, etc. as much as I can.

I guess the bottom line is, if I could no longer dumpster anywhere at all or buy food from stores, I would not die. I could get my food other places. So although I do currently rely on capitalism for some of my diet, I am not so dependent on it as you think. I am also not as dependent on it as someone who has a job and is used to (and dependent on) a steady flow of income.

More dependent? 19.Mar.2005 17:07


Please explain how someone who gets food out of a dumpster is more dependent on capatalism. Also, please explain how people who are actually thinking about their impact are "self-absorbed" or any more "self-absorbed" than the average person.

If you have any such argument (which I would guess you don't since your last "explanation" was just repeating what you already said), please don't present it as an example of some guy you knew or whatever -- like "there was this guy, he was a dumpster diver, and he was such a self-absorbed, too-hipster and therefore I conclude that they all are." Let's hear a real analysis if you're even going to bother, and maybe in your own words.

My opinion is that people who are just working, conforming, and consuming are more self-absorbed. People who are mostly concerned for their own immediate gratuitous satisfaction are more self-absorbed. People who "need" all of the products of capatalism are more dependent.

Do they owe us an explanation? 20.Mar.2005 10:54

Of course they fuckin' do!

You're self-absorbed because you only care about yourself in this situation. Do you care if the employee gets fired for not following the store's rules on allowing dumpstering? Do you care if the store owner gets sued when someone gets hurt in the dumpster? Do you care if the store loses its insurance because they let people dumpster? Do you care if the store loses its business license because it's not insured? Do you care if the store closes and people lose their jobs? Do you care that when the store closes the food donations they were making to the truly needy won't be made anymore? Do you care that the store probably will be replaced with a bigger, meaner corporate entity? Do you care that kids playing anti-capitalist take the food from dumpsters and free boxes that homeless and incapacitated people could have used?

You're more dependent because you have fewer choices. Simple, and no amount of semantic and conceptual gymnastics changes the basic premise.

I am not opposed to dumpstering, anti-capitalism or actively altering the socioeconomic environment. I just don't think we'll get to real change by being ignorant, self-righteous and myopic.

i KNEW it was new seasons! 20.Mar.2005 11:04

passively reading along

Thanks to whomever confirmed that fact. Shit. This is weird. Wonder if "cthulhu's" boss knows how ingratiating s/he is being with the community? The note, as quoted by cthulhu, doesn't sound the least bit "snotty." How weird that this person had such a bizarre, reactionary response to it. Bad day at the office, cthulhu?

In any event, dumpstering is a way of life in this community. Get used to it, New Seasons, or get the fuck out.

if they get to tell us what we owe them 20.Mar.2005 20:48

who tells them what they owe us?

> You're more dependent because you have fewer choices.

Even IF this definition of "dependency" made any sense ...

People trying to get by on what they "earn" at jerkwad minimum-wage jobs have a "choice" between Pepsi and Coke. Meanwhile almost all their time and energy is taken up either doing what they're told at work or hustling to keep their shit in order so they can show up at work every day like the reliable mass-produced components they are. The dumpster-diving crowd actually have a lot more choices about what to do with their time, how to do it, and whom to do it with.

... BUT THEN AGAIN, by this reasoning, silver-spoon rich fuckers like, well, like for instance Dubya as an obvious example, would qualify as maximally "independent" since clearly the man could do literally any damn thing he wants for the rest of his life and no one could stop him. He's rich as hell, his family is perhaps the most powerful on the planet, and it has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to cover his mistakes and get him out of trouble. On the other hand, every single thing he needs or wants is provided for him by somebody else and has been since he was born. If this is "independence" then something's wrong with the English language.

PAX is not a people's staffer 21.Mar.2005 17:18

4 the record...