Freegans at Perelandra – Brilliant Conservationists or Dirty Hippies?

In a Gothamist post linking to the NY Times coverage of the Williamsburg freegans today, one commenter mentions the group of freegans who rummage through the trash at Perelandra every night:

There’s a group that goes to Perelandra on Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights every night and goes through their garbage looking for food. It seems that Perelandra being aware of this packs it up in boxes specifically for them and places it in the street. I’ve seen them picking out some good looking stuff but there’s no way I would do it.

So, have you seen them recently? Do they bug you, man? Think they’re saving the world?

Nightline covered this group back in 2007.

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  • my2cents

    They’re like raccoons with ipods!

  • WillowtownCop

    Dirty hippies. Why don’t they leave it for City Harvest to distribute it to homeless people who might actually need it?

  • Arch Stanton

    Dirty hippies. Please take a bath and get a job. Do something productive stop just thinking about how you can get over on the system…

  • AEB

    “Dirty hippies”? My goodness! Suddenly it’s 1968!

    (Don’t you want to tell them to get a haircut?)

  • Leela

    They are certainly “dirty hippies” but they all have jobs and money already. To echo earlier sentiment, I wish that Perelandra would donate their unsold produce to local soup kitchens and food pantries (where it can be distributed to people who actually need and can’t afford it) rather than see it in the hands of these wealthy schnorrers.

  • Jorale-man

    I don’t know have a problem with them – it is a free country. I do notice that Perelandra is not the cleanest neighbor on the block. Every morning on my way to the gym their sidewalk is littered with trash and rotten food. It’s not the cleanest block to begin with but they seem like particular offenders.

  • Macman

    My2Cents for the win.

    But nothin’ says “I’m stickin’ it to the MAN!” like living in Williamsburg. Do the freegans wash down their meals with cans of PBR, or a grande soy chai latter from Starbucks, while listening to The National on their iPods?

    According to

  • DrewB

    As I’ve said before on these Freegan threads. Who cares? As long as they clean up after themselves, it has no effect on anyone else. It is just another in along list of non-issues that people like to complain about. Does it really matter whether they NEED to dumpster dive? They choose to do it, and it doesn’t really effect anyone else. I agree that Peralandra should probably contact City Harvest if they have left over edible food. But that aren’t doing that, so I say better SOMEONE eat it than it go to waste.

  • WillowtownCop

    It’s probably also illegal. See NYC Admin Code §16-118(7)(B): Unauthorized Removal of Refuse

    “No one, other than an authorized employee or agent of the DSNY, shall disturb or remove ashes, garbage, refuse (including recycling) or rubbish placed within the stoop line or in front of houses for removal by householders, tenants or occupants.”

    The law isn’t clear about if it applies to commercial establishments. I probably wouldn’t write the ticket unless they were making a mess, but some people would.

  • bklyn20

    Among the freegans I have seen at Perelandra in the past aer the eccentric-but-good-hearted “goggle twins” who live in Willowtown. They’re not the so-calledd dirty hippies — they’re hungry seniors. I’ve also seen older people waiting outside Key Food on Montague after 10 pm — I think there may be 50% off prepared food at that time. I last saw that a year or two ago, so maybe it’s no longer Key Food policy.

    That said, I don’t like the food debris on the sidewalk after some of these freegan feeds — but my dogs do! Nonetheless, I think it’s better to feed hungry people, brandishing iPods or not, than to throw it away in the garbage. I don’t know that some of the huingry elderly can even get to a food bank, or would be strong enough to carry much food home.

  • David on Middagh

    Agree w/blklyn20. Hey, aren’t we all scavengers? Who among us would turn down a tasty maple bookshelf or a chocolate/chipped china set left at the curb? I just don’t understand the criticism.

    (Oh, hey, curb alert: Five minutes ago I saw a medium-sized Sony flat panel TV that would make a good bedroom set–just sitting on the SE corner of Montague and Henry with a “FREE/works” sign on it. NOT! Take THAT all you hypocritical non-scavengers!)

  • Demonter

    Health concerns? It’s risky business eating discarded food from dumpsters.

  • Obama?

    I don’t know enough about the “Freegans” to comment about them yet, but I do know that edible food should be given to those who need it & not thrown out in dumpsters!

  • bklyn20

    Sorry for all the typos. I am blogging on the fly at work, and don’t have no time to check over everything. As all can see, I didn’t opt to take typing as an elective in high school.

  • Arch Stanton

    I use to be in the restaurant biz… From what I remember City Harvest has some pretty strict rules about what they will accept for donations, It can’t be garbage, I’m not sure what’s in that dumpster but I’ll bet it doesn’t make the grade… You got to figure the Perelandra employees have first dibs on whatever is being discarded… and they are mostly “hippies”… well at least clean working hippies…

    Personally, I could care less if these trust fund “freegan” losers eat trash… if the get sick and croak its Darwinism at work…

    Also, WillowtownCop is right, it is illegal to take anything from a dumpster…

    David on Middagh Yes, I have taken things from dumpsters but not things to eat… and to be honest, with the whole bedbug epidemic I doubt I would take anything off the street…

  • bklyn20

    Don’t have ANY time at work, either. Although I guess the Stones still can’t get no satisfaction.

  • nabeguy

    I’m getting a sub-thread from all of this that says there are freegans and then there are me-gans. The former seem to be a bunch of disenfranchised kids who are living off the discards of our society, the latter seem to be the discards of our society that are simply trying to live.

  • Reggie

    That reminds me, I saw a guy this morning with a t-shirt that said, “I [heart] haters.” At the time I thought, is such a declaration necessary? It’s starting to come into focus for me.

  • David on Middagh

    @Arch Stanton – Just to clarify some things… I’ve been around when Perelandra employees put out the discards, which are carefully packed in boxes and set by the curb (not tossed in a dumpster) for the convenience of the waiting scavengers. IIRC, partakers included middle-agers and, as noted before the “goggle twins”.

    I agree with you that taking anything bed-buggable off the street is risky business nowadays.

  • A Neighbor

    Check out the night time trash scene outside Trader Joe’s on Atlantic.

  • matt h

    I worked at Perelandra for a bit. Here’s the scoop: little is done for the scavenger’s convenience. We put the compostable trash where we are told — we DO put the ‘better’ stuff at the top of the boxes anticipating the audience because… why make someone dig through? And Perelandra gives a LOT of food to city Harvest and Food Not Bombs. The store is legally disallowed from giving all of it to charity: anything with obvious signs of mold or decomp has to be thrown out or composted. The Freeganites just have lower standards than food safety laws. (e.g. that apple with a giant mold crater on the left, but a perfectly intact right hemisphere)

    As for the sidewalk litter, I have lived here a little over a year and can proudly say: welcome to New York. Perelandra cannot really be described as having a worse sidewalk rubbish problem than anyone else.

  • duder

    Also, those guys that go through the boxes bring a broom and dustpan to clean up after themselves – no lie.