Reclaimed Food Show and Tell

free produce

It was another awesome possum week in the reclaimed produce department. Every week people ask how I am able to get all this produce for free.

And the answer is really, really simple.

I just asked.

“While I was out running errands, I stopped by my favorite produce market to inquire about possibly picking up “scraps” for my chickens once a week.  Although the shopkeeper was a little hesitant at first, he finally agreed to let me come by once a week and pick up whatever scraps were available on that particular day. 

The reason he was a little hesitant was because people had come in before asking for free scraps, and then they don’t show up, leaving him with boxes and boxes of rotting produce. So I thanked him {profusely} and promised I would be back on the set date to pick up the scraps.   April 23, 2012 – Mavis

feed your family for free mavis

In the end, what is really boils down to is making a connection, and following through. There have been a couple of weeks over the past year when I was not able to pick up the produce because I was out of town. But I always called or stopped by and let Mr. Produce Guy know I would not be picking up the produce on our set pick up day.

food waste in america

There are grocery stores, produce stands, farms and shops all over the world that would be willing to give away their scraps, if someone would just come pick them up. You just have to find one.

I’ll totally admit, I got lucky. The first store I asked said yes. And no, I won’t  name the store, because big or small, chain store or Mom and Pop, East Coast, West Coast, each individual store will be different.

If you are turned down by the first store, keep asking around. The worst thing they can do is tell you no. Hopefully, if this type of thing appeals to you, at some point, you will find your Mr. Produce Guy.

It never hurts to ask.

Peace Out Girl Scouts, now go forth and find some free food {if you want}.


American Wasteland How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food
American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food

Would you like to see what else we have brought home over the past 11 months?

Head on over HERE to read all the past stories and to see all the pictures.

If you have just stumbled upon this series and are wondering how I got all this food for free, you’ll want to read this story first.

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  1. Robin says

    My local grocery store chains refuse to give away their aging produce but I asked at my local farmer’s market and now pick up chicken treats each week. The trimmings are not for human consumption but my girls love the treats so I feel like I scored. But I am still asking at each store I stop in maybe I’ll wear them down? LOL

  2. D.Cates says

    Our big chain store & mom/pop grocery stores donate their discarded produce to the community food pantry to feed the unemployed & or one parent households.

  3. Glenda says

    Have you ever thought of going around to local restaurants to see what they throw away or bakery’s.

    I watched a cooking network show that the chefs had to do this to make there meals for competition.

    They went to fish markets, fresh meat counters, produce farms and such and asked if they could have what they were going to throw away and some gave it to them. And some didn’t you never know until you ask. The amount of food this country waste is quite over whelming and sad when they could give it to the food banks and to help people. Restaurants and such are not allowed to give it to food banks. If you are interested just ask you never know when someone will say yes. And Besides Mavis does use it for her chickens too!

  4. Mike says

    I am a manager for a large retail grocery chain. I can tell you that in the more urban areas you aren’t going to get any major chain store to give you any of the out of date or damaged items, unless the manager that you talk to is poorly trained or new to the job. Not only does my chain compact all of our spoiled/out of date products, but on occasion when the amount is more than normal or more than the compactor can handle we pour bleach over the items in the dumpster to make them inedible. This may seem like a giant waste, but there is a reason behind it. The chain I work for, and many of the larger chains have been sued by “customers” who did exactly what you are doing. In the case of my company it was a woman using the same story as you are. She claimed she was taking the damaged items for animal consumption and instead fed her family with the products. On one occasion she fed them something that was too far gone and they became ill and she of course sued the company for giving her unsafe food. This same lawsuit has even been tried by people who were taking items out of the dumpsters without permission and becoming ill. This is why most chains would rather destroy damaged items rather than give them away for free or even at a discount or at the most donate what they can to a food bank so that the responsibility of determining safety falls to that organization.

    • Amy Hackbarth says

      Mike although I see why your chain store does that; however, why do they not have said customer (that wants the produce) to sign a waiver for the produce, each time if necessary?

  5. Jamie says

    You are extremely blessed and fortunate, and your chickens eat better than most people do. Have you considered taking extra produce to your local charity? St.Vincent de Paul, Goodwill ect? Mabey just a needy family? There are quite a few people that would be very grateful for some of it if its more than your family can use, I’m sure many people would appreciate the shared wealth also.
    Blessings to you and yours,

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