Freegans and “Leftover Soup”.

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Leftover Soup

At least once a week, usually near the end, I gather all the leftovers in my fridge and try to come up with some kind of meal out of it all. Sometimes we have what we call “leftover days” where all we eat are the random foods from the fridge that look like they won’t last much longer. Other times I whip up a casserole or more frequently a pot of  “leftover soup”. I was prepared to write a short post to share my most recent recipe for “leftover soup” when I stumbled upon an Edmonton Journal article on Freeganism.

I’m guessing that most people, like me, have no idea what this term means. Freeganism is a cross between “free” and “vegan” and people to practice freeganism are typically anti-consumers, yet not necessarily vegans, in the sense that some will eat animal products. This article discussed a few local freegans who dumpster dive for their food, personal hygiene products, clothes, etc. The philosophy behind freeganism is based on taking only what you need and sharing as much as possible with others. It’s actually a pretty neat idea! Think of the sheer volume of waste that our consumerism society produces and how some of this waste can be diverted from landfills and used to feed and cloth so many people.. Simply by jumping in a dumpster and retrieving the thrown out goods. At first it sounds gross, dirty and the idea of eating something that comes out of a dumpster is pretty unappealing. That being said I’m sure if you put two cans of soup next to each other there would be no way of knowing which one came from a dumpster and which one was purchased in the store. A lot of grocery stores will throwout perfectly good food just because they need to make room for a new shipment of stock or it’s getting close to the best before date. Meaning that a lot of the food in the dumpster is perfectly good! 

It’s really frustrating to me when you hear people talk about conventional farming vs. organic farming methods and you always hear the same argument: organic farming cannot feed the world. It’s such a nonsensical argument. Clearly we have more than enough food to feed the world as it is. Seeing how obesity is fast becoming one of, if not the biggest health problem in North America I think a simple conclusion to draw is that we have too much food. I’ve heard stats that up to 2/3 of the food produced in North America ends up in the landfill and that’s not talking about food scraps or parts you can’t eat, it’s talking about wasted food. Food produced and not eaten before it goes bad. At first that number seems a little unrealistic but when you think about all the steps along the way where food gets wasted it becomes a little more believable. The grocery stores are throwing away food that doesn’t get purchased, the restaurants are throwing away massive amounts of food that doesn’t get eaten, or was incorrectly prepared. Which reminds me of the last time I ate out and they accidently put bacon on my pizza even though I had asked for it without. If you’re a vegetarian for environmental reasons it makes more sense to either eat the bacon, or pick it off and give it to a friend, than it does for them to take it back and make a new one throwing out your perfectly good meal. Then there are all the individuals who purchase way more food than their family can possibly eat and most of it ends up in the garbage. Considering all these different levels of waste 2/3 seems like a reasonable number. Whenever I’m making a meal I try to survey the fridge first then find a recipe that will use up something about to go bad. I try to buy less and make more trips to the grocery store. If something does still go a little bad, the chickens are always willing to eat it up, or I can compost it for use in my garden.

Although I think Freeganism is a great concept and I applaud those brave enough to follow the practice, it doesn’t bode well for only eating organic products. More likely the products you find in the dumpster would be over processed, and full of chemicals, not exactly what I want to put in my body. Yet the anti-consumerism at it’s core is exactly how we try to live our life. Buy only what you need, secondhand if possible, spend less, live below your means and eat “leftover soup”!  

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Leftover Soup

Approx. 8 servings

  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 red pepper, minced
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 3-4 med sized potatoes
  • Any leftovers from the week – I had some broccoli with cheese sauce, plain wild rice, some wilted spinach, fajita bison strips, and some vegan cheese about to go bad.
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and Pepper

This recipe is super easy and little to no mess other than your pot.

  1. Add onion, red pepper and butter to large pot, cook on med until onion is browned.
  2. Add water, bouillon cube and potatoes (plus any other uncooked veggies you want to add). Let simmer on med until potatoes are soft, 10-15 mins.
  3. Once potatoes are cooked add all your leftovers and milk for a creamy consistency. Bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve! 

Hopefully this simple recipe can help reduce waste in your household too! =)  

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One response to “Freegans and “Leftover Soup”.

  1. Thanks for the recipe! I strongly agree with the freegan philosophy. I don’t usually literally pull things out of the garbage, but I have done it–for instance when a co-worker cleaned out the office fridge and pitched everything that hadn’t been claimed and some of it was quite fresh. More often, I grab the extra food from events I’m attending, accept unwanted produce from people’s gardens, etc. Either my family eats it or I make it into something I can freeze for the next time my church has our monthly turn to serve dinner at the homeless shelter.

    I’m mostly vegetarian, but I’d rather eat meat than let it go to waste. I mean, I think the way veal is raised is very inhumane and it’s not a healthy or environmentally friendly food, but when there’s an extra pan of veal parmesan, the negative impact of that veal has already happened; its impact will be even worse if it is thrown away instead of eaten.

    Check out my bread heel casserole, with links to other recipes for using up odd bits of food.

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