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Travel Story – Eating food from the rubbish bin.

Lavado de frutas

Believe it or not, we ate from the garbage…

The first trip we made together as a couple was to Europe. We left with our bags without great expectations but willing to live the trip fully. We had applied to the working holiday visa in Denmark, but we leftChile without having an answer. When we were finally granted a visa, we encountered some difficulties, such as finding accommodation, because the rental contracts required 6 months minimum when you were only allowed to work 3 months with the same employer, so we began to get scared to waste all our money trying to get a job.

To relieve our stress a little, through helpx.net, we contacted a family that would accommodate us for two weeks, in exchange for doing some work at their home. A week before we had to arrive, they sent us an email telling us that they were going on vacation so that we would be alone in that house for 10 days. We thought it was exaggeratedly confident, but we accepted the experience. Upon arriving in Denmark, after looking for some information that we sought regarding Danish customs and manners, we thought we would reach a very structured family, in which we were going to be weird people trying to fix in a very different place.

Upon arrival, there were many things that caused us grace. There was a baby, who was given many freedoms due to the formation of his mother, who was a nursery admirer of the Waldorf method, so it seemed that sometimes, the freedom was too much. The job was basically cleaning, which was necessary since 4 children normally lived there, and on weekends they reached 7, so the house was most of the time very chaotic.

After a few days, one afternoon at about 7 pm the housewife approaches us and tells us if we could accompany her to do dumpster diving in a few more hours. I had heard that term before, but I didn’t understand exactly how it worked. Gery, without understanding much, wondered what we were going to do, but I didn’t give an answer. The housewife gave us some gloves, some big bags, and left the house. Gery wondered if we were going to rob a bank or something, but I just smiled.

We got into the car, which was a blue Volkswagen van, with tinted windows and we headed to some supermarkets. In the car, she explained to us that they did this practice since a few years ago, that they did it because that way they could live better, and because you could get really good stuff from doing it.

We still did not understand very well, we were just there, sitting with our gloves and bags, waiting to get there to understand more.

After about 20 minutes, we finally arrived. It was a supermarket, closed for the hour and we parked in the back. We got off and went to the rubbish bins. When I opened them, I was surprised that all things were packed, many of them, like fruit, in bags with one or two riped fruits, while the rest were in perfect condition. There were no bad smells, and everything looked pretty nice. She explained to us that supermarkets have to pay a tax per kg of garbage so that people came to take part of the rubbish was good for them, so that’s why the supermarket tried to find ways to make the waste not disgusting so that people or organizations can take what they need. We took large amounts of bread, still in good condition (to feed the chickens they had), we had some fruit, bacon, potatoes, onions, carrots, even some beers that were about to expire, among other things that I no longer remember. I ended up inside the container trying to reach the things that were in the bottom.

We returned home, and very quiet, we entered, washed things with soap and water, and left them on different shelves that they had to store things. The next few days, we were still eating, but now we knew where things came from, mostly in good condition.

This made us overthink about what is happening in our countries, where conditions are much worse than those in Denmark, with much lower salaries, where there isn’t a good statal system of education and health (in most of them), and that supermarkets throw large amounts of food daily without being able to take advantage of it.

Finally, we questioned our prejudices, because without noticing it, we were eating from the garbage. And you know what, it wasn’t as terrible as we would have thought it would be, in fact, it even made sense.