Freeganism, Food Deserts, Free Markets: Where the Invisible Hand Fears to Tread

I help convene a monthly discussion series at the Allentown Brew Works called Beerituality.  Last week, we welcomed guests Cathy Frankenberg and Jon Geeting and wrestled with the topic of food deserts in the urban cores of the Lehigh Valley.  Cathy is a founding organizer of an initiative to establish a food co-op in neighboring Bethlehem, and Jon is a political blogger/journalist with a special interest in the urban transformation happening in Allentown.

As you might imagine, we had a very good time of discussion and participation.  I’ve been vexed by some of the realities we’re encountering on this issue, not the least of which being the problem of food waste in America, even in this awful economy.

Enter Jane Velez-Mitchell from CNN Headline News and a piece exploring “freeganism.”  Freeganism is dumpster diving for still-edible food behind restaurants and grocery stores and cooking those salvaged items for dinner.  For some reason, I’m reminded of Jesus picking wheat on the Sabbath as he walked through a field he didn’t own.  I’m also reminded of the practice we see in the book of Ruth, when grain that fell to the ground during harvest was left for the scavenging needy.  But at least that grain wasn’t thrown in the garbage for no good reason.  At least people who needed it didn’t have to scrounge in dumpsters.

We’d like to think we’re so much more progressive on so many fronts than our ancestors, but on issues of food and shelter, our older traditions have sometimes echo the kind of sustainable ethos that comes with living close to the land and the means of production.

This has everything to do with the problem of food deserts here and now. It has everything to do with how we will respond to the needs of our community.  For more commentary on the free market’s failure to bring healthful food to food deserts, read my recap of last week’s Beerituality gathering.

One thought on “Freeganism, Food Deserts, Free Markets: Where the Invisible Hand Fears to Tread

  1. While it’s entrenched enough to have its own Wiki page, “Food deserts” is an awful term. — since food and desert are terms that don’t really belong together my mind first reads “food” then reads desserts instead of deserts. Leads to confusion until within context it appears you are really talking about islands of food scarcity due to poor distribution. With it’s a tough problem. The business of food distribution is tricky since it runs on very scary low margins and needs very high volumes to make a profit. I’m disappointed that I’m not available for Beerituality anymore.

Join the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.