25 January 2014

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" The Dangers of Dumpster Diving

A friendly Dear Food Thoughtz reminder that the garbage you're eating might be poisoned.  If you think you've been poisoned by garbage in the past, please write in at food.thoughtz@gmail.com
Dear Food Thoughtz

Is it acceptable to eat food out of a dumpster? I have a friend who is an expert dumpster diver. There is no limit to what he will find in - and pull out of - a dumpster. I mean, seriously, no limits. Cigarettes, gatorade, organic pineapples, rice flour, power tools, vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers, elliptical machines you name it. When we were younger I used to accept his dumpstered wares without a second thought - I was a broke philosophy student with no life prospects and no standards, who was I to judge or turn down free food? But now I have a job where the dress code is "business casual", and I have a kid, and a pension, and I wonder if it is okay to keep eating from the dumpster. I really need you to answer this now, because he just gave me a case of Campbell's chunky chicken noodle soup, the kind that is ready to eat, and I'm freaking out about whether I should be eating it. And feeding it to my child.

Divided on dumpstering

PS We had chunky chicken noodle soup for dinner tonight. And also lunch yesterday.
PPS He said he checked with Campbell's and there have been no recalls on the soup...yet.

Dear Divided on Dumpstering,

Sometimes when I am walking to school I will see a bottle of Nestea just sitting out in the open, on a bench or on the edge of a planter or on a desk in an empty classroom.  Sometimes I slow down and pretend that I have to tie my shoe so that I can get a better look at the bottle.  Sometimes it is still sealed.  And sometimes I think about taking it, because free iced tea, right?  I mean, I’m not going to spend $2 on a bottle of Nestea myself, but sometimes I really want it.  Why shouldn’t I take it and enjoy?  Eventually someone is just going to throw it out anyway. 

But aside from the humiliation that accompanies picking up a bottle of juice off the street and drinking it in full public view, the main thing that always stops me is that episode of Criminal Minds.  I know you know what episode I’m talking about.  It begins with a father and a son driving back from a movie, and during the drive, the father begins to hallucinate and I think he ends up killing his son.  And then it turns out that there have been several similar cases, and somehow a bunch of random people with no connection to one another have been drugged with LSD (or something like LSD) because they all took a wrapped candy from a candy dish in a bank—some of which had been poisoned.  It was all a test run and the unsub’s primary target are all of the high-ranking members of a corporation that recently screwed this guy over somehow, but of course the team figures it out before the damage is done.  I mean, I think that boy still died and definitely a woman died.  But still.  BAU!  BAU!

And so I always think: what if?  What if the reason this sealed iced tea is just sitting out in the open, free for the taking, is because some asshole has drugged it with something?  Did you ever consider that maybe the reason Campbell’s hasn’t issued a recall is because they’re not the ones who injected their own Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup with LSD?  Did you consider that someone might have bought a case of it, laced it with drugs, and then put in a dumpster knowing that someone wouldn’t be able to pass up on that bargain?  Did you consider that?!

ps. Hope you don’t get botulism!  Or something even worse…

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