Years ago, as soon as William Addy to be a student at the college of south Carolina, he took a friend the end to dig v dumpsters because that food.

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“You know, teach a male to fish, hell eat forever,” Addy says. “So ns was like, ‘Hey man, come v me and I’ll show you sort of what i’m doing.’ He wanted to dumpster, however I feel like if i take him v me, climate I have the right to teach that the respect because that it — since I’ll go, and also if yes garbage exterior of after i’m done, okay clean all that up. Leaving it better than once you discovered it.”

William Addy searches a grocery store dumpster in West Columbia on Sunday afternoon, finding just a bag the bagels. Addy says the best time to “dumpster” is in ~ night, just after the stores close, as soon as food has actually just to be discarded. He additionally notes that flies are much less of a trouble at night.

They were at a dumpster behind a Cayce business — Addy was in reality inside the dumpster — and a cop pulled up and also asked what they were doing.

Addy describes the remainder of conversation.

“Looking because that food,” Addy answered.

“What carry out you mean you’re looking for food?”

“We’re looking for food.”

“You guys go to school about here?”

“Yeah, ns go to USC; he goes to Midlands Tech.”

“Don’t they have some kind of regime where you’re not eating out of the garbage?”

‘I to be like, ‘Yeah, however it’s expensive.’ He was like, ‘Get out of here, go gain some actual food.’ he was type of gift an ass, yet he to be being nice in ~ the same time,” Addy says.

The cop to be enforcing the law: Digging v dumpsters is often taken into consideration trespassing. But he was likewise enforcing a stigma against eating what most civilization consider garbage.

To many of us, the line in between Food and also Not Food is bright and also crisp. There’s the ingredient you buy in ~ the grocery store store, or grow in your garden, or are served at a restaurant. That’s food. Yet the undesirable weeds cultivation in between your carefully planted tomatoes and also cucumbers? no food. When something’s been tossed in the trash, that garbage. Not food.

But to part people, that line is fuzzier. Not since they can’t afford come buy food — no usually. It’s because they think we should think more carefully about where our food comes from. Castle worry around the substantial amount of food it is wasted through restaurants, grocery store stores and consumers. And they desire to find options to the consistent industrial food supply chain.

Americans, according to one federal government study cited by the new York Times, waste around 27 percent of the food that passes through that it is provided chain.

Andrew Dalton (left), and William Addy pack food from a dumpster into an SUV on Sunday night in West Columbia.

To eat external the system, some human being forage for mushrooms and wild plants.

Some thrive as lot of their own food together possible, store chickens for eggs, trade for various other foods. And also some pick v dumpsters for food. Some of these world dub themselves “freegans” and identify through a slew of various other anti-consumerist ideologies.

For others, it’s much more about sustainable agriculture and environmentalism. Others skip the labels. But whether they’re motivated by punk belief or through the eco-friendly movement, world who manage to eat external the continual food system are couple of and far between in a city choose Columbia.

There room legal considerations. The illegal to remove or damages plants top top public residential property in most places, including Columbia. Return the landscaping crews in ~ city parks could be trying to kill off the weeds, the city code doesn’t distinguish between weeds and other plants. And also dumpster diving, while not addressed explicitly in city law, generally constitutes trespassing.

Most human being in Columbia, it’s safe to say, are eating well within the constant food supply system. However there space some people who manage to eat outside it, at the very least some of the time. We spoke with two of them.

The Weed Eater

“I think I have kind of a different idea about weeds than many people,” Matt Kip says. “You know, there’s a most militancy against weeds, yet I knew them very first as food, so ns think of weeds together a an excellent plant in a negative place.”

“And also that is kind of a human-centered means to look at it,” he continues, “because actually, from nature’s view they’re in the perfect place. Castle fulfilling a necessary niche. They’re often soil repairers, nutrient accumulators, that kind of thing.”

Kip is standing beside a sassafras seedling, showing exactly how to recognize the tree through its three kinds that leaves.

“Oval, trident and mitten,” that says. “On this one you have the right to see all three.”

“What’s the oval and the trident?” asks Sadie, his 8-year-old daughter. He reflects her the various leaf shapes: the three-lobed trident leaf, the two-lobed mitten, the level oval, every on the same little sapling.

Dried and powdered, sassafras leaves end up being filé powder, which is used to thicken gumbos. The sassafras root is the initial flavoring because that root beer.

Kip and also his wife, Emily McCravy, have actually raised their 3 young youngsters in Rosewood. Now they’re trying out the weeds roughly the fringes of City Roots, the sustainable city farm near their house. The weeds that flourish here stand for the ones civilization might view in their yards in the Midlands, Kip says.

Since he was a teenager, Kip has been learning about and eat wild edible plants.

These days, he leads “weed walks” at City Roots and also along the Cayce Riverwalk come teach civilization which plants are safe to eat.

Wild restaurant have acquired Kip and McCravy v some unstable times.

“We together a family members have made a decision, mine wife and I, come be with our youngsters as lot as possible, so we occupational when us can and I have a part-time job, and we type of item it together,” Kip says. “So there’ve been part lean time here and also there. I remember a time when Sadie was most likely this huge or smaller,” the says, pointing to one of the younger kids, “when we really simply straight didn’t have actually dinner and also didn’t have the money for it. And so us went out to a park and got a bunch the this stuff.”

Matthew Kip and also daughter Sadie McKip organize up bulbs that wild garlic. So late in the season, food preparation often provides the garlic an ext bitter, Kip says, for this reason it’s best sliced raw into foods.

He gestures in ~ a plant referred to as curled dock or yellow dock. “ cooked the down and had this very delicious green and also picked some wild garlic v it. And also OK, we did have some rice, so following thing you know, we had actually dinner. Friend can create a great plate of cook greens with this stuff.”

He shows another weed called bull brier, a variety of smilax.

“It’s a much maligned weed types because it can obtain crazy and also just type of cover whole abandoned houses, and it’s thorny,” Kip says.

But that is long, graceful, slightly curled tips are delicious — nutty and also mild.

“These advice come increase in the spring and persist into the summer sometimes and are delicious raw. Castle taste a lot prefer asparagus. You could also heavy steam them and also it’d be a lot favor asparagus. That nutritious, and also really among my favorite wild edibles.”

Foraging isn’t just a issue of grabbing varieties that it seems ~ edible, though. Kip points the end Carolina moonseed, a plant the looks a lot choose bull brier. It’s poisonous, he says. Various other plants, choose pokeweed, have to be eaten young and cooked, since they save on computer a soft toxin. And also many wild greens do not do it be eaten too consistently — numerous of lock contain oxalic acid, which have the right to interfere with nutrient absorption and cause kidney stones. (Spinach also contains oxalic acid, for this reason it’s not distinctive to wild plants.)

Kip points out wild garlic; blackberries; acorns; wild black color cherries; pigweed, i beg your pardon is a wild range of the grain amaranth.

Another weed, Florida betony, yields bunches of small, segmented tubers that have the right to be sliced raw end salads.

Look increase Florida betony online, and you’ll uncover the Clemson extension service page top top the plant, i m sorry recommends constant lawnmowing to save it trimmed, and also a list of herbicides that death it. Ns tell Kip i heard a caller top top the local public radio routine Making that Grow complaining around it. The nods wryly.

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“Yeah, for this reason you can spray glyphosate top top it, or you could eat it — whichever you want to do,” Kip says.