Food For Thought
Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert’s Dive! Living Off America’s Waste.
“Most of our friends are aware we get all of our food from the dumpster,” proclaims Naomi Hunt as guests chow down during her baby shower, the party immortalized in Jeremy Seifert’s Dive!, an eye-opening documentary that exposes the problem of food waste. Every day, retail food stores around the United States fill their dumpsters with still-edible food, even as people in their communities are going hungry. In Dive!—which the Pasadena-based filmmaker describes as a combination of entertainment, guerrilla journalism, and call to action—Seifert and friends vividly illustrate the problem by “dumpster diving” behind a selection of Los Angeles area supermarkets, rescuing perfectly good food in an effort to highlight the ugly truth about “food loss.” That is, grocery stores know they are wasting food, and most refuse to do anything about it.
Seifert, 33, admits that he started dumpster diving three years ago because it offered the promise of free meals. “Some friends who were visiting from Philadelphia came over to my house early on a Sunday morning with five or six bags of food they had scrounged from a Trader Joe’s dumpster. That was all I needed to see. I was excited to go out the next night and see what I could find,” he offers.
What Seifert found were dumpsters full of meat, fruit and vegetables—not necessarily “fresh,” but still edible. Seifert and his buddies soon found themselves dumpster diving almost every night. Not only did they spend next to nothing on groceries, they were eating better food than they could ever afford to buy—everything from organic beef and free-range chicken to New Zealand lamb chops and Pacific Salmon.
“I eat much better out of a dumpster than I ever did before,” contends Seifert pal Noah Smith in Dive!, which also features friend “Alfonso,” a professional chef, preparing salmon stuffed with Feta cheese and spinach, and topped with a blood orange citrus ver blanc sauce—all from ingredients rescued from the garbage.
Between the delectable gourmet meals and the wide variety of foods available in the trash, Seifert admits he found himself getting spoiled—and picky. “I found myself wandering through Trader Joe’s, hoping for certain items to be waiting for me in the dumpster that night,” he confesses.