MS. REBECCA SHEIR
The next secret we'll uncover today is, I got to say, pretty trashy. I mean like, actually really trashy. Reporter Kerry Klein is the keeper of this secret which she recently revealed to strangers at a potluck in Petworth.
MS. KERRY KLEIN
First off, can you tell me what you thought of the potato fritters?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1
They were really excellent. I like the crispiness of it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1
They were lovely.
So what would you say if I were to tell you that some of the ingredients in those fritters came from a dumpster?
A few days before that party I was in a dumpster. It was cramped, loud, dark, illegal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #2
What it wasn't, smelly. It was chalk full of veggies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #2
Lettuce, Bok Choy.
I love Bok Choy.
Erica and James do this all the time. Their favorite spot to dumpster dive, behind a co-op, one of D.C. finest. But I'm not going to tell you which one.
Why a co-op? Because the dumpster is emptied all the time. The foods in closed bags. Usually it's only in the trash because it's expired. The two of them inspect everything before taking it.
I'm going to leave sprouts.
Sprouts go bad and give you, like, botulism or something crazy.
They even know what to do with stuff that's too mushy to eat.
Some greens for the ladies.
Greens for the ladies.
And by ladies we mean chickens.
That's what we call them.
In just 20 minutes we've got peppers, oranges, strawberries, potatoes, spinach, Bok Choy.
We got some washing to do.
After the dive I took my potatoes and peppers home and scrubbed them, scrubbed them hard, smelled them, squeeze them. I had my doubts. So I turned to the Internet. What should I do about the eyes? Are they really poisonous? What are these purple spots? What are potatoes supposed to smell like? What's the worst that could happen? Could I die?
I can't tell you how many times I was on allaboutpotatoes.com. After all that I was confident. This food was as safe as I could make it. So I was ready for an experiment, a risky one. I decided to feed people garbage, not tell them and see how they reacted.
A party in Petworth was the perfect opportunity. So I peeled, chopped, grated, fried. I brought recycled potato fritters to a potluck.
A dumpster? Seriously?
Well, actually I think that's really entrepreneurial and I'm sure it won't make us sick.
Are you guys just being really nice because you don't know me?
It's the kind of thing you don't really want to know.
Because we all say we hate to waste food, especially here in D.C. But sometimes there's not clear line between food and trash. I wanted to see if people could really tell the difference even if it meant taking them out of the comfort zone.
I'd have to think about it a little bit more. I totally see where you're coming from.
Yes, you should have a label on it though that it's from a dumpster.
But it's a bit odd.
Would I dive again? Definitely. Would I feed people trash again without telling them? Probably not but take it from me, home-cooked garbage tastes great.
That was reporter Kerry Klein. She originally produced this story for the 2013 Third Coast Short Docs Challenge, a program of the Third Coast International Audio Festival.
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