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sources of "found" food  RSS feed

 
                    
Posts: 18
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I'm curious...are other permies finding sources of free food?  Where?

Occasionally I am lucky enough to stumble on a great source of free food, but I'm always looking for other sources.  I would like to know if other people have resources that the rest of us could explore in our communities.

Here's my best one:  I live about 50 miles from a fish hatchery.  Each year, they trap returning steelhead to "milk" for eggs and sperm, as well as  data collection.  Since the fish will die anyway, they give the steelhead away to anyone who can use it.  There are about ten of us in my little town who regularly take the fish.  One friend drives up and fills everyone's ice chests for them. 

What are your great finds?
 
Andreas Brevitz
Posts: 38
Location: Sweden, Stockholm
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Dandelions, nettles and "garbage". =)
 
Kirk Hutchison
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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The wild fig trees of Los Angeles - they are pretty much everywhere.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Apples from  trees growing beside the road after kids threw cores out car windows.
Plenty of 'spitters', but finding an edible seedling apple is really exciting.
 
Paula Edwards
Posts: 411
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Bakeries around here give their left over bread away, sometimes for people to feed their animals, but there is always something usable. And there are so many recipes with old bread (dumplings for example)
 
Steve Furlong
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I know a few people who habitually retrieve food thrown out by shops and restaurants. In Europe it's called skipping or "doing the bins", in North America, dumpstering or dumpster diving. One friend has often filled his kitchen cupboards from what big supermarkets have thrown away. Marks and Spencer is a good target I've been told, as everything they sell is wrapped in plastic and therefore practically immune to contamination.
http://www.wikihow.com/Dumpster-Dive
 
Cris Bessette
gardener
Posts: 812
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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Wild fruit trees/vines

last year I collected a few quarts of persimmons from wild American Persimmon trees (Diospyros Virginiana), these generally are "pioneer" trees that grow along the edge of woods, cleared land, fence rows.

Wild grapes, blackberries, blueberries,etc. are pretty common.
I made some pretty good wild grape wine last year.

Here in the South there are tales about people eating roadkill animals, but I doubt its very common anymore.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Eating roadkill is mandatory in Alaska (large animals, not squirrels and such!).  If someone hits a moose or other large animal, they report it to the State Troopers, who have a list of charitable organizations (local churches and so on) that they call to see if they know of someone who needs meat.  If the first one they call doesn't know of anyone, they go down the list to the next organization.  They rotate through the list so everyone gets a chance at some meat.  We got a yearling moose that way one time when we were living on about $350/month -- it really helped.  We had to go pick it up and butcher it ourselves, of course.

Oregon is really backwards, though.  Here it's illegal to even touch a roadkill deer, and we have a lot of them. 

Kathleen
 
Len Ovens
pollinator
Posts: 1452
Location: Vancouver Island
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
Oregon is really backwards, though.  Here it's illegal to even touch a roadkill deer, and we have a lot of them. 


Here in BC, you can keep it if you have a hunting lic. and are willing to buy a tag for it... (and it is in season etc.) I don't know what they do with them otherwise.

I guess it keeps people from putting a "cow catcher" on the front of their truck to get food.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6688
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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    I run ads on the free websites where people sell household stuff and look for jobs. There's a good site called the used everywhere which has local sites throughout North America. Craigslist, Kajiji and plenty of other sites exist for buying and selling. Almost all of them have a freebie section. I stick a wanted ad on the freebies and in the gardens section. There is no way I could ever harvest all of the fruit that normally goes to waste. And because these people have been neglecting their trees it's all organic . This resource of unpicked fruit in people's backyards has existed everywhere I have ever lived. I've picked it commercially. And for some reason wasted fruit is more prevalent in poor areas where you would think the locals would grab it all.  My advertising isn't limited to fruit. Last winter I decided to test the waters and see who had a boat to give away. Half-an-hour after placing the ad I was standing in a driveway preparing to remove my 15 foot fiberglass boat with a dead motor. When my brother needed a big mooring anchor for his boat I searched the ads using the keywords free and concrete. An hour later three people were helping me load a giant ugly bird bath that became the anchor
 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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some Freegans i know have arrangements with certain store managers to collect any produce etc that is about to go bad, the stuff that looks the worst gets used first in smoothies and other recipes that it doesnt matter how the thing looks whole...
 
                            
Posts: 79
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i couldnt say i live of free food, at least till next year when i move to countryside but for sure it makes big part of my diet... where i live now is edge of town and surrounded with fields, in winter i get bruxellessprouts and kale as much as i can take, make great jam from rose berries, in early spring i pick nettles, make sambucus juice, than come cherries, mirabelles, in summer i usualy go to seaside where i found lot of figs, grapes, almonds, carob, in fall i go all around to collect wallnuts, i pick apples from abandoned military property, i pick blackberries, i even found lot of carrots left after harvest in fields, i can pick lot of corn but i dont like (sprayed with nasty pesticides), also i pick lot of herbs for tea (cammolilla, mint, yarrow, lime...), sometimes if im in big city i go to market in evening to take what sellers leave, in fact i think is very stupid to pay for everything you eat, food is all around, you just have to take it.....
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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My wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary butchering a deer hit in front of our house when we lived in New York.  This was more than 20 years ago. We reported it and at the time we were living in a very rural area, and the police basically said, they didn't want to know anything about it. They said, "can you dispose of it yourself, or do you need help"

We told them we would have no problem disposing of it. 
 
Mary Saunders
Posts: 92
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If you have a Food Not Bombs, you can donate, help prepare, or help eat, whichever.
 
                              
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I just canned 9 pints of lambsquarter picked in a wild area in my back yard. I use dandelion greens in the spring and dig the roots in the fall. Purslane is eaten here all summer. I've tried to can, dehydrate and freeze it and wasn't too pleased with it. There's wild salsify in the back yard, too.

A nephew is a janitor for the school district and now and then brings canned goods the cafeteria has thrown out.  A brother in law gives me trout when he catches them, since he doesn't like them. I got several packets of yeast free through Freecycle because it was about to expire. That was in early spring and I'm still using it.

 
Rita Vail
Posts: 63
Location: Northwest
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I'm in a college town. I hit the dumpsters when students are leaving town. I have found bags of frozen organic fruit still frozen! Condiments, canned goods, cleaning supplies and everything - they toss EVERYTHING.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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please do ask people for their extras from their gardens orchards etc..as most people who grow food have way  more than they need.

we got free pears, 9 bags and could have gotten more, from an orchard. I am always picking free berries in the woods nearby, elderberries are just getting ripe here now.

apples are everywhere along the road

a neighbor has a plum tree and doesn't want them I can get all I want when they are ripe and may get some tree starts from her also, she also gave me cukes and zucchini.

I gave apples and pears to a neighbor who had a cider mill and she gave me juice, i made some jelly out of some of it.

we also eat all kinds of edible weeds that grow around here

I plant new fruit and nut trees and perennial vegetables and fruits eveery chance i get...and I often have plants I'm willing to share, right now I have an over abundance of Jerusalem Artichokes I would love to share if people are nearby in Michigan and I often give away starts of black raspberry plants.
 
                              
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I pass a farm  truck vendor on my way to and from work. Most of the people who buy bunches of beets from her don't want the stems and leaves, so she gives them to me for free! The irony is that fresh vegetables are actually really expensive here, as we don't have the best climate or soil.
 
                                  
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we scavenge all our fencing, furniture, and firewood from craigslist, etc.  just got a new doghouse tonight that'll become a new hen house from down the street.

we forage for nuts and apples and wild grapes, but i'm wary of dumpster diving.  i'm planning to tap maples in parks this february.
 
Len Ovens
pollinator
Posts: 1452
Location: Vancouver Island
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ferndale wrote:
  i'm planning to tap maples in parks this february.


I had thought of that too. There are a lot of them growing wild... but before I think of that, I should be out there gathering lots of black berries... easier and faster and no boiling required. (well jam does). Has anyone made fruit leather from black berries?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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I think you'd need to remove the seeds first, Len. 

Kathleen
 
                                  
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
I think you'd need to remove the seeds first, Len. 

Kathleen


why remove the seeds?  for flavor, texture, or health?
 
                            
Posts: 19
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Have made a lot of blackberry fruit leather.

Run the fresh blackberries through a hand-held food mill. To a cup of blackberry juice, with now most of the seeds removed, add 1-2 c applesauce.  Add sweetener to taste depending on the tartness of the combined berries and apples.  Spread puree to minimum 1/2 inch smoothly on saran wrap or alternately parchment paper. 

Usually load up four cookie trays worth of puree to oven dry at a time.
Producing 16 leathers at a session.

The leathers are flavorful with a juicy enough texture to roll well but not so much moisture to mold. And keep in dry containers indefinitely.

Sold well at the weekly Farmers' Market for many years.  Also routinely prepared pear, raspberry and plum leathers plus some speciality leathers for fun.

 
kent smith
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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In this part of the country you will see dozens of old apple trees along fence lines dropping fruit by the bushel. On our place we have more fruit than we can use. We turned three 5 gallon buckets of apples from one tree into canned applesause this afternoon and have a  3 gallon pot of apple butter cooking now. Yesterday I gave the cows a full wheel barrel of bruised or cut apples. tomorrow I will let them graze under an old tree that we have picked, but there are bushels of dropped fruit on the ground. We see similar trees that are never picked along the roads, dropping fruit along the roads. Next year I want to gather more apples from our place to fatten a couple of hogs, make more cider, hard cider, cider vinagar and The apples are nearly a labor free crop to grow except for harvesting.
kent
 
Len Ovens
pollinator
Posts: 1452
Location: Vancouver Island
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wildwood wrote:
Have made a lot of blackberry fruit leather.

Run the fresh blackberries through a hand-held food mill. To a cup of blackberry juice, with now most of the seeds removed, add 1-2 c applesauce.  Add sweetener to taste depending on the tartness of the combined berries and apples.  Spread puree to minimum 1/2 inch smoothly on saran wrap or alternately parchment paper. 


Does it need that much apple? Any fruit leather I have made before has been just one fruit... peaches, strawberries etc. It is just that I only have so many jam jars so I thought leather could be next... maybe with the left overs even...

Thanks for the tips... gotta go pick some berries now.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Blackberries dried down to fruit leather without removing the seeds would be mostly seed, so I would remove them for the sake of texture.  Ditto for raspberries or thimbleberries or anything similar that's very seedy.

Kathleen
 
                            
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You can make fruitleather using just one kind of fruit and like was mentioned earlier, removing the bulk of the seeds if 'seedy'.

And that's how I made it for some years especially when the children were young.  It could be crisp or moist and it wouldn't last long.

However when I started selling fruit leathers, I wanted a product that was both tasted good and rolled up perfectly every time. So I fooled around with adding applesauce and until mission was accomplished.

Plus it seemed that I always had way more apples plus spoilt fruit or windblown that people drop off at my farm as they know I have cows, goats, etc. than pears, plums or strawberries.
 
Lacy VanCam
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most weeds are edible
 
                                  
Posts: 19
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we will try harder to advertise for apple trees and grapes to be picked next summer.  it'd be nice to eat free food!
 
kent smith
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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We picked up a couple of hundred pounds of black wallnuts the other day. They are drying and will be a nice compliment to some baked goods.
kent
 
Joe Skeletor
Posts: 113
Location: Blue Island, Illinois - Zone 6a - (Lake Effect) - surrounded by zone 5b
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machinemaker wrote:
We picked up a couple of hundred pounds of black wallnuts the other day. They are drying and will be a nice compliment to some baked goods.
kent
How brown are your hands, eh?

I just picked about 50 pounds worth of black walnuts. How long do you let yours cure before cracking them? Just curious. -Joe
 
kent smith
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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you are right about the staining from the walnuts. I am not sure on how long to dry them. I am used to english walnuts which i am guessing dry faster.
kent
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i today walked home from a neighbors with about 25 pounds of lovely green grapes..they went into the freezer..I have my own purple grapes to harves for jelly and more for the freezer..but I seldom pass on free food..also our wood guy brought me a bag of crookneck squash (went in freezer) and a bag of peppers as well as two packages of bear steaks.
 
                              
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I live in a large city, and serve "street salad" all summer.  Wild spinach, lamb's quarters, wood sorrel, nasturtium, clover, mint, dandelions, and dock are all found in abundance up and down the city blocks and crowding under the tiny trees.  If you know where to look you can even find lots of figs and feral sunflowers.  I know there are people here who hunt up a good amount of edible mushrooms too, but I don't know enough about them to gather them myself.

It makes me sad to know that their are so many people in this city in want of greens in their diet, and so many available greens going to waste.
 
Len Ovens
pollinator
Posts: 1452
Location: Vancouver Island
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I graze... while walking, which just so happens to be my job (the walking not the grazing) ... brought home some grapes today but normally I eat as I go... apples, plums, black berries... and in the spring pine tree tips.
 
janette cormier
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Len, you can also pick up most roadkill in BC if you have a trapper's license.

i usually wild harvest a significant portion of my food and medicinal (tea) plants. lots of mushrooms, berries, nuts (hazel, walnuts), apples/pears/medlars and edible greens.. all from wild/feral/otherwise untended areas.

i also am in to hunting, fishing, trapping, and using parts of animals that others usually toss (heads, hooves, hides, bones, etc.). i also enjoy clamming and picking oysters and mussels.

sometimes we'll get free animals from the buy and sell/craigslist, too. got a free boar once!

anyways, when i have a stable living situation and can focus on food i would guess alteast 75% of my food comes from the above methods. i also grow some veggies by just encouraging them to go feral (ideal) and i usually tend atleast a potato patch and some squash plants.
 
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