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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Dive! Living off America's Waste
Directed by Jeremy Seifert
First Run Features 07/11 DVD/VHS Documentary
• Every year in America we throw away 96 billion pounds of food.
The writer, director and lead spokesperson in this short but illuminating documentary is Jeremy Seifert who along with fellow dumpster divers goes out regularly at night to raid the produce and other food thrown out by grocery stores and supermarkets in Los Angeles. Many of these businesses claim that they donate food regularly to food banks and shelters. But they still toss out enough food for everyone raiding the dumpsters. Seifert shares the telltale signs of bad food but claims that most of the meat and other produce he finds is not tainted. For example, one egg in a carton is cracked while all the others are okay. A much greater problem is the toxins that are emitted from landfills where as much as one-third of garbage is decaying food.
We see Seifert, his wife, and young son eating the food they have rescued. One evening he gathers a year's worth of meat, and they have to get a freezer to keep it fresh. Another night a gourmet chef prepares an exquisite dinner out of the discarded food. Seifert claims not to have ever suffered an illness from dumpster diving.
Wanting to know how Trader Joes can constantly throw away quality foods even before date of expiration, Seifert repeatedly tries to contact store executives and representatives but has no luck. In a New Year's project, he takes six grocery carts of food to a food bank. And one of Seifert's companions makes it clear that he sees his dumpster diving as an act of civil disobedience. The only real crime is trespassing on private property.
Dive! is a very personal film that speaks to so many large ethical issues in our society: treating food as a commodity and showing no respect for its preciousness, corporate waste and carelessness, hunger, and the unpopularity of that old-fashioned virtue of thrift. We live in an environment of excess where there is too much in supermarkets, too much eaten, and too much thrown away. Don't miss this 53-minute documentary that packs a terrific punch and just might activate more citizens to do something radical about the food waste epidemic.
Special features on the DVD include Dumpster Bros shorts: "The Beast," "Wad Scientist Kobrakoff," "The Boa," "Dumpster Chef," "Der Cammer," and "Abu Finn"; and a campaign video: "Eat Trash Campaign: What You Can Do."
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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• Visit the official site for Dive to find out about the Eat Trash Campaign to End Food Waste and what you can do.