Free food — and how strange it feels

Leaving the system through a simple tap

Bright side of life

Growing up in a country like Germany, you always feel the coherent stability of the economic society. Wherever you go, whenever (almost) you go, food is available, plenty of it, not only packaged but prepared food in general. I refer to traditional places like bakeries or meat stores inside supermarket chains, where you get a “Brötchen” or “Bullete” for as low as 1€, to keep you calm for some hours. Great prices, great quality. Amazing.

Strange world

Overproduction. Simply given, there is too much food produced than can be sold. Which is eventually — thrown away. Into a garbage can. Shut with some high-security locks, so that none of the homeless can put their hands on it. You’d say strange, but it can get worse: The workers of the stores which are completing the physical act of disposal, can’t even take it home — as it is illegal. Yes, you heard right, employees are required to throw away food that is in good shape and of good quality.

The solution

Thankfully my wife is a person that feels responsible for the society. She was the one who showed me that crazy app, which is baked by some cool startuppers in the UK, essentially enabling you access to that “trash-food” — (I don’t like that name either, but in some people’s eyes this might be the wording they would prefer 🖕).

Too good to go — in the war on food waste

The app provides you as a business the ability to share your EOD left-over freshly packed food with people who do give a fuck about environment. As a user, you can easily find nearby stores which are part of this club, put yourself on the pick-up list and see the time when it’s best to pass by. Mostly great.

You could cry out loud, if you think such actions underminde the capitalism, or the free world, but I’d say this has more to do with dignity than with profits etc. I love business and all aspects of economics, but throwing away stuff really butthurts me.

The experience

So, take out your iPhone. Open the App. Search a nearby store. Check-in for pick-up. Wait until evening. Go to the store — and feel awkward.

Walking into the store with your latest iPhone 7, in some great denim, your new era cap — searching for someone to take care of your pain about society. Eventually you’ll find the people who work there, you present them your retina display with a pick-up ticket on it and suddenly, you see a smile.

Well, you know, creativity can be found even in a simple sandwhich and seing it been thrown away is something that makes each of them deeply sad. So eventually they’re incredibly happy to provide you with instructions.

You can take everything except A,B and C

Basically, we could take as much as we could carry from the best things the store offered. *For free. Now. Chocolate croissants, spinach pies, brezel and much much more. It was an amazing moment, feeling like a little kid, grabbing everything you want into a big bag. Worth around 30–40 euros. (we were limited in taking products of 3rd party producers , but that’s fine there was plenty of other great things to eat)

A quick handshake and a thank you with a bright smile was everything we needed while walking out. No questions or counting. Just take it and go :)

I have to say, I was left with a feeling that what I’m doing is wrong, but it wasn’t.. it just showed me how deep we’re inside a system that we’re not able to leave without additional force.
And that strange feeling is always there, mainly because of this single step out of our daily system, without being punished. It’s like corruption or stealing.. you’re doing something against the rules and it feels wrong.. cause there are no rules that declare your actions. You know since childhood that things are not free and that you have to pay, but here, it’s just a bug in the system, which is now a feature. :D

Aftermath

What I really want to underline here: it’s not wrong to take this food. This is not meant to be for poor people, as you need a Smartphone to make your pick-up call. It’s more for people with a sense for society, change and the vision for a better world.

I do have this aftertaste, but I believe it is just my system oriented thought process which lives in comfort in it’s daily routine. I advise all of you not to trust that feeling and learn to distinguish between “bad” on a human level and “bad” on a system level.

Postmortem

I think here is something broken and we just need to focus to find a away to make it work. This app is a great start but we need to expand this not only through smartphones to a limited range of people which are technically up-to-date, but through other ways for other layers of society.

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*You’ve got to pay 3€ per pick-up, but as a fee for the app-service of 2good2go. The store doesn’t take a dime.
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To continue this journey I’ll check out some food-sharing options in Berlin and elsewhere and will keep you updated in my next sketch.

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