“Marko Manriquez is the founder of The Freegan Kitchen, a site that promotes cooking found food. He’s been diving in dumpsters for food going on three years now. As a result his lifestyle is both environmentally and socially responsible. I recently became aware of freeganism through a mutual friend. Then I got to interview Manriquez about how he’s been off the agri-business grid since. Photo by electromute.
Kelly Abbott: When did you first become interested in the freegan lifestyle and what drew you to it?
Marko Manriquez: I’ve always considered myself an environmentalist (as well as a bit of cheapskate), so it was a natural fit for my lifestyle. My friends kept finding amazing things from the dumpster, including food. At first, I was apprehensive to eat any of it, taking only timid bitefuls. But, I was surprised at both how much perfectly good food was being thrown away (~14% by conservative estimates) and that no one really knew about it. And it also bothered me that most of our garbage was being literally entombed in landfills rather than composted or returned into the ecosystem. The United States is a culture of enormous consumer appetites (obviously)—we consume (and waste) so much but it never really seems to satisfy our desires. The impulse to buy our way out of anything is very strong, rarely questioned and conditioned into us perpetually from a very early age. I wanted to share this revelation with others. I created FK as a way to both satirize our consumer media bubble (how better than with a cooking show?) while at the same time empower others to alternative forms of sustainability—all the while leveraging the tools of the system to critique itself.”