Dumpster Diving Goes Prime Time with Austrian Reality TV Show

Dumpster Diver

While it’s mostly relegated to little more than criminal activity of homeless people or brazen hipsters here stateside, dumpster diving has found an audience in Austria—quite literally. Waste Cooking is a reality television show focused on the trend that began airing last year, reports NPR.

According to NPR, “The show is produced by a group of artists/activists. Show director David Gross, who hails from Salzburg, says he did his first dive there in January 2012 and was shocked by the food waste he encountered.”

Food waste has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years. Jeremy Seifert’s award-winning short film DIVE! Living Off America’s Waste, along with scores of celebs, including chef Lidia Bastianich have come out against the massive amounts of food wasted in the U.S. Just how much food goes uneaten? By some reports, it’s nearly 40 percent of all the food produced. In Austria, it’s about 105,000 tons of edible food, even despite the countries exceptional composting program.  

Waste Cooking episodes typically begin with divers on bikes, heading towards a trash site, reports NPR, “the divers gather an impressive haul of pristine fruits, vegetables, cheese and other foods, packaged or not. Then Vienna food blogger and cooking instructor Tobias Judmaier transforms it into vittles in a kitchen set up on a public pedestrian thoroughfare, where he and others try to lure passersby to taste their fare. Many are titillated by the gambit, but some wrinkle their noses when they learn the provenance of the food.”

The show’s team also produced a short film, Days in Trash, currently on exhibit at Geneva’s Museum Ariana through February 24th, 2013.

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Image: Carlos A. Martinez

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.