Books  Environmental Science  Waste Management & Remediation 

Freegans: Diving Into the Wealth of Food Waste in America

Freegans, who try to live on what we throw away, reveal the limits of capitalism but also the limits of consumer activism in changing it

By: Alex V Barnard (Author)

280 pages, 14 b/w illustrations

University of Minnesota Press

Paperback | Mar 2016 | #228187 | ISBN-13: 9780816698134
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £18.50 $23/€21 approx
Hardback | Mar 2016 | #228188 | ISBN-13: 9780816698110
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £65.50 $80/€74 approx

About this book

If capitalism is such an efficient system, why does 40 percent of all U.S. food production go to waste – while one in six people in the nation face hunger? This startling truth has stirred increasing interest and action of late, but none so radical as that of the freegans, who live on what capitalism throws away – including food culled from supermarket dumpsters. Freegans is a close look at the people in this movement, offering a broader perspective on ethical consumption and the changing nature of capitalism.

Freegans object to the overconsumption and environmental degradation on which they claim our economic order depends, and they register that dissent by opting out of it, recovering, redistributing, and consuming wasted goods, from dumpster-dived food to cast-off clothes and furniture. Through several years of fieldwork and in-depth interviews with freegans in New York City, Alex Barnard has created a portrait of freegans that leads to questions about ethical consumption – like buying organic, fair trade, or vegan – and the search for effective forms of action in an era of political disillusionment.

Barnard's analysis of this pressing concern reveals how waste is integrally bound up with our food system. At the same time, by showing that markets do not seamlessly translate preferences expressed at the cash register into changes in production, Freegans exposes the limits of consumer activism.

"Eat this book. If you're lucky enough to find it in the trash, dig it out and bite in. It's sociologically fresh and environmentally nutritious. Alex V. Barnard writes crisply and invitingly, and his analysis of the 'fetishism of waste' is novel and helpful. This is ethnography as it is meant to be: going through the trash and thrash of everyday life and uncovering analytic treasures – free to be had, if we only stop to look."
– Michael Bell, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"In Freegans, Alex V. Barnard examines how this group of activists aims to change the way we live on this world, one overripe tomato at a time."
– Tristram Stuart, author of Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal



Introduction: A Brief History of a Tomato

1. Capitalism’s Cast-offs
2. Diving In, Opting Out
3. Waving the Banana in the Big Apple
4. A New World Out of Waste
5. The Ultimate Boycott?
6. Backlash, Conflict, and Decline

Conclusion: Salvaging Sustainability

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this product. Be the first to review this product!


Alex V. Barnard is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a food justice activist.

Bestsellers in this subject

The Origin of Feces

NHBS Price: £12.99 $16/€15 approx

Environmental Technologies to Treat Nitrogen Pollution

NHBS Price: £187.00 $229/€210 approx

Waste Management Paper No. 26A: Landfill Completion

NHBS Price: £12.99 $16/€15 approx

Oil Spill Response: A Global Perspective

NHBS Price: £80.99 $99/€91 approx