Lars Eighner devoted chapter seven to discussing dumpster diving.
He called himself a scavenger, rather than someone who simply picked everything and anything out of the dumpster.. As his savings started running out, he had to use his intermittent income to cover it and depend on the dumpsters for his other necessities including food, toilet paper, medicine, books, furnishings, etc.
Along with his dog, Lizabeth, he would rummage through the dumpsters to find these items. Although he would rather spend a “comfortable consumer life,” he nevertheless learned a lot from being a scavenger which he discusses in the rest of the chapter. He begins with what is safe to eat.
He says that in evaluating food, one must ask the question, “Why was this discarded?” He talks about the various diseases such as “botulism”that can arise from stale food and ways to avoid it such as avoid eating from “dented” or “bulging” cans. Dry foods, slightly dented fruits and hard candy are edible according to him. He goes on to talk about how he used to loiter around a dumpster outside a pizza delivery store and eat those pizzas which were either left overs, discarded because they were cold, baked imperfectly or the wrong order was given. Soon he became apt to realizing which pizzas were fresh and which were old.The area that he loitered around was occupied by well-off college students who wasted a lot of food and items which came into use such as yogurt, cheese, canned goods, staples, drugs, pornography, alchohol, wine among others. Although there are a lot of different kinds of food available to him, he refrains from poultry, pork and eggs and is not too big on ethnic foods.
Despite the care he takes, he still manages to get “dysentery” once a month. He also expresses the stages a new scavenger goes through. From being a person with low self-esteem, the scavenger gains confidence as he encounters new things, such as shoes and calculaters which are in perfectly good condition. Scavengers then come to a point in which they don’t want to leave anything but they realize that they must only pick up things that they need. He goes on to say that there are times that he gained weight because the food that he gets at the dumpster is too fattening like pizza and doughnuts.
He goes on to express his disgust for the can scavengers who ransack dumpsters for cans leaving everything else in a complete mess and spend their money on drugs and alchohol.While rummaging through the dumpsters, Lars can’t help but come across personal items such as bank statements, labeled birth-controll pills, pictures, condoms, torn wedding books, teddy bears, journals and diaries with which he can automatically guess people’s issue and problems in life. He also finds needlework which he uses to knit gifts.
He encounters fire ants, bees, and alley cats which also dwell in the area. Despite the fact that Lars can only hope for something valuable to turn up at the dumpsters, he is none the less intrigued with all the insights he has come across In his experiences.