Friday, September 28, 2007

Freeganism it's not Just a Joke

I first heard the term freegan as part of a funny story about a friend of a friend who is a vegan that eats meat and dairy when it is free in order to save money. When confronted with the question "How can you eat meat aren't you a vegan?" the vegan replies "I am a freegan, I eat things that are free."

So it was weird to me when I came across the above video that talks about how freegaism is a movement. It is an anticonsumerism lifestyle where people employ alternative strategies for living based on "limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.

The word "freegan", is a portmanteau of "free" and "vegan". Freegaism got it's start from groups like Food Not Bombs serveing free vegetarian and vegan food that was salvaged from food market trash by dumpster diving.

Dumpster diving is a technique that many freegans employ. They get free food by pulling it out of the trash. Freegans find food in the garbage of restaurants, grocery stores, and other food-related industries, and this allows them to avoid spending money on products that they claim exploit the world's resources, contribute to urban sprawl, treat workers unfairly, or disregard animal rights. By foraging, they believe that they are preventing edible food from adding to landfills and sometimes feed people and animals who might otherwise go hungry. Many freegans participate in "Guerrilla" or "Community" Gardens, in order to rebuild community and reclaim the capacity to grow one's own food.

There is some confusion as to what constitute freegan practices, and numerous misconceptions. One misconception is that all freegans are also vegans. Some freegans, sometimes called "meagans", consume meat and other animal products as long as they would otherwise be wasted; others are strict vegans.

Some meagans claim that even seemingly benign products are produced exploitatively under capitalism, so there is nothing "pure" about a vegan diet. Some freegans - meanwhile - use the label because they are willing to pay for vegan or vegetarian food but will only eat meat if it is free, abstaining only from the economic support of animal exploitation. In essence calling themselves freegan because their diet is "vegan unless its free" though for these individuals the use of the label is often intended only as a clever wordplay.

The freegans have been known to support the Really, Really Free Market (RRFM) movement. The concept is to form a temporary market based on an alternative gift economy. Where you come and if you need something you take it and if you have things you don't need you offer them up. The RRFM movement aims to counteract capitalism in a non-reactionary way.

It holds as a major goal to build a community based on sharing resources, caring for one another and improving the collective lives of all. Markets often vary in character, but they generally offer both goods and services. Participants bring unneeded items, food, skills and talents such as entertainment or haircuts. A RRFM may take place in an open community space such as a public park or community commons. Here is a link to a blog about a RRFM in Pasadena.

1 comment:

Colin said...

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