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Dive!: Living Off America's Waste - Movie Review - 2009

Saving America From Wasting Away

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


Dive!: Living Off America's Waste - Movie Review - 2009

Dive! on DVD

First Run Features
Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert has a unique survival strategy: he feeds his family, including his adorable toddler son, by dumpster diving for food that's been discarded by supermarkets all over Los Angeles. Night after night, he finds more completely good, still fresh, still packaged meat and produce than he can possibly use, and he winds up organizing food drops to local soup kitchens that feed the needy.

The Statistics of Waste

Seifert's personal dumpster diving escapades, accomplished solo or with friends, show that the amount of waste is staggering. In one run, the filmmaker scavenges dozens of whole chickens, top quality steaks, cartons of eggs, sacks of potatoes, boxes of tomatoes and enough strawberries to keep his family supplied for months. In fact, he pulls so much good food out of dumpsters that he has to find a freezer in which to store it.

The actual footage of dumpsters and being emptied and pickup vehicles being filled is convincing enough, but Seifert backs up his images with shocking statistics about the actual amount that's wasted, and at what cost, and how many people that wasted food would feed if only it could be delivered to them. The statistics are shown not with static graphics, but in clever drawings that might have been done to entertain his son. The drawings, composed in quick time on the screen, are quite entertaining. Sources for statistics aren't revealed, but the presentation is clever -- and there's no reason to doubt their accuracy.

Seifert introduces other dumpster divers -- including his wife -- who are equally passionate about preventing food waste. He also points out that during the several years he's been dumpster diving, the economic down turn has changed the complexion of the dumpster diving community. Dumpster diving is no longer a hobby for people who could afford to purchase food but are committed to preventing waste of food and other resources. Now greater numbers of people suffering economic adversity are becoming dependent on dumpster diving for survival.

Who's To Blame For The Waste

America's system of food distribution encourages waste. Items with expiration dates are tossed out before those dates arrive, entire cartons of eggs are tossed out when one egg is broken, baskets of berries are tossed out because a few berries have been squashed.

Store managers, facing issues of liability and possible costs incurred in transporting unsold food to soup kitchens, feel that its safer and less costly for them to simply throw the food away.

All the big market chains are culpable, but Seifert does single out the Trader Joe's chain as the film's singularly unsavory culprit. Seifert repeatedly tries to interview Trader Joe's management, but his requests are consistently rejected. Basically, he accuses the chain's management of wanton disregard for the needs of people who are going hungry. And, you do get his point. But, Seifert says, the other chains are guilty, too.

This is a timely film that will make you think twice about your own grocery needs and excesses, and the wastefulness of the markets where you do your shopping or dumpster diving.

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Film Details:

  • Title: Dive! Living Off America's Waste
  • Director: Jeremy Seifert
  • Running Time: 45 mins.
  • US Release Date: February 10, 2010 (Oxford Film Festival)
  • DVD Release Date: July, 2011
  • Distributor: First Run Features
  • Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
  • Location: Los Angeles, USA
  • Language: English
  • Production Country: USA
  • Website
  • Trailer

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