November 13, 2011

For grad student, Dumpster diving is academic

His findings: A lot of good food goes to waste. His advice? He says dive in.

The Seattle Times

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

David Giles searches a Dumpster for discarded food as he researches his thesis on perceptions on edible food and why people discard something that may be safe to eat.

Seattle Times

Shelly Rotondo, executive director of Northwest Harvest, a food bank with offices around the state, agrees with Giles that a lot of food goes to waste. By one estimate, 25 percent of produce is wasted.

But she thinks food banks are doing a good job of capturing food and getting it into the hands of the hungry, and that most waste now comes from households or restaurants.

Rotondo said fruits and vegetables with flaws and imperfections never even reach the grocery-store shelves -- they're sent by distributors to the food bank.

Giles hopes to encourage people to think a little harder about food that could be donated to the food bank, or even just given away to hungry strangers. He often works with a group, Food Not Bombs, that collects and cooks discarded produce from farmers markets and other sources, and serves it to homeless people in local parks. Giles also does public lectures at the UW on his work.

Hoffman said Giles is raising good questions about food waste, how it's generated and how it's discarded. "It forces you to think about how we establish value, and what happens to things that are labeled as unwanted and unworthy," he said.

"He's nobody's idea of a tweed jacket, pipe-smoking professor," Hoffman said. "He's doing work that's very socially relevant."


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)