Dumpster dining host planned a street Christmas

Environmental activist Rob Greenfield takes up the homeless challenge

Rob Greenfield
  • Rob Greenfield

After spending a whole week eating nothing but food found in dumpsters of grocery stores, Rob Greenfield hosted a dinner party at his home in Ocean Beach on Friday, December 20. With the goal to educate people of how much food goes to waste in America, Greenfield is working on a short film named 21 Gourmet Dumpster Meals to inspire people to eat healthier and be less wasteful.

Food for dumpster dinner

Food for dumpster dinner

Reportedly, one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables, though in reality, America produces enough food to feed itself and three other Americas. We throw away 90 billion pounds of food per year, or roughly $165 billion worth of food, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Though Greenfield can easily afford to buy food and not eat from dumpsters, he does it to draw attention to the food crisis in this country. 

“Friday's dumpster dinner was a total blast. About 30 people showed up, some who heard about it on the news, some from reddit, and a bunch of friends. Not a single person could tell the food came from the dumpster; most of them said it was above and beyond their expectations….

Dumpster dinner diners

Dumpster dinner diners

“As for the dinner, we made an eggplant-mushroom frittata, veggie pot pie, rosemary-roasted potatoes and carrots, pumpkin, and Delicata squash soup, mashed sweet potatoes, mango guacamole, and a fruit salad, among many Trashetizers [trash appetizers].”

With more food than he could possibly eat or share with his friends, he prepared a big pot of home-made soup and a couple dozen freshly prepared fried-egg sandwiches and gave them to anyone that wanted a meal outside the post office in downtown San Diego the morning before his dinner event. That's where he met Lee, an older guy who was not interested in his food, but had something to say about the camera that was documenting Greenfield’s charitable act.

“If you really want to understand, why don't you come live on the streets with me?” Lee scolded Greenfield after he explained that the camera was there for a documentary about food waste in America. 

Amused by his response, Greenfield accepted the challenge of living on the streets with Lee. Greenfield prepared himself to spend Christmas week on the corner of 16th and Island, where Lee said he could be found.

With the intention of showing that the differences between the “homeless” and the “home dwellers” are minimal compared to the similarities, Greenfield said he would spend the holidays penniless out in the cold.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


Thank you writer Suarez for dispelling the myth (2nd paragraph) that one out of every six Americans doesn't have enough food. With welfare and community food banks, and dollar menu items at every fast food joint, no American goes hungry but by choice. As for Greenfield's goofy experiment - his time would be better spent working to change laws that require stores and restaurants to throw away older food, rather than serving a botulism stew to his guests.

While I'm not inclined to dumpster dine for effect, I do think Mr. Greenfield highlights a significant problem. Our society has grown very wasteful and demanding for cosmetically perfect foods. Consequently, supermarkets won't buy imperfect but still delicious fruit and vegetables. It's also been estimated that Americans throw away about half of their food - either through complete nonuse or wasted leftovers. I hope that as a society we can all be a little less wasteful and then maybe our food banks will be a little more full.

I saw some pictures of this guy's food campaign around the country - it was so inspirational!.Seeing the vasts amounts of food he collected from people's trash (that actually looked very appetizing) was a really emotional experience in many ways. I just cannot understand how people can throw away so much edible food when you don't even have to walk a couple blocks to find someone that would gladly take it off your hands and eat it.

This caused me to look deeper into what's going on, and I'm not the kind of person that usually pays attention to this stuff. While doing some research on the amount of waste being produced in the US I also read here (14th paragraph) that 50% of the world's trash comes from the US alone, and that we only recycle 30% of all that trash - the rest we're dumping at landfill. That's just beyond crazy!

I also read somewhere that here in San Diego (a population of over 1.2 million people) we throw away 910,000 tons of trash per year!

We definitely need more Greenfields not just building awareness but taking action.

Wow! Rob Greenfield really took it to the extreme to wake us up on how much food is wasted.

I was shocked to discover that organic waste makes more than 50% of waste thrown in landfills - resulting in toxic levels of methane gas. Moreover, the average American wastes 20 pounds of food per month, making up almost 40% of the total food supply!!

While most dumpster rental companies like this one strive to recycle as much waste as possible, we should avoid throwing organic waste in dumpsters in the first place.

Log in to comment

Skip Ad

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader