From dumpster diver to GMO-curious filmmaker, Jeremy Seifert is ready to talk about the secret of seeds at Natural Products Expo West 2012. Hear about his experiences with genetically-modified food around the world on Saturday, March 10 at 2 p.m., Anaheim Marriott Platinum Ballroom 6.
Natural Foods Merchandiser: Why did you start dumpster diving?
Jeremy Seifert: Some friends were visiting from out of town, and they came with bags and bags of food they’d scored from dumpsters—some of it rotting, some of it really amazing and edible. That was my introduction to this magnificent secret that there are hundreds of thousands of pounds of delicious food being thrown away in grocery store dumpsters.
NFM: What are some memorable foods you’ve pulled from a dumpster?
JS: Everything was particularly memorable when I started. It was hard to believe that the food you see on store shelves eventually ends up in the garbage. Every few weeks I would find what became known as the “meat bag.” It weighed 50 pounds or more and was filled with a nice collection of meats—from fresh ahi tuna to rack of lamb.
NFM: Are you still diving?
JS: Although my family and I never got sick from eating this food, today I guess I’m what you would call a casual dumpster diver. I only swing by the dumpster if I happen to be out past midnight. One of the reasons [I don’t go as frequently] is the dumpsters around my house have completely changed. They used to be literally overflowing with food. Now it’s pretty hard to find edible food on any given night because these stores in particular have stepped up their donations to charity considerably.
NFM: Do you think retailers can play a crucial role in addressing hunger?
JS: I believe edible food shouldn’t be thrown into a dumpster, and I believe inedible food shouldn’t be thrown into a dumpster. Edible food should go to people and inedible food should be either composted or given to livestock. Retailers can adopt policies to end food waste in their stores by partnering with organizations like Feeding America, the largest food bank in the country, or working with local food banks, food pantries, shelters and halfway houses. The Good Samaritan Act paves the way for all grocery stores to give food without fear of being sued [for food-quality issues].
NFM: Tell us about your current film project, which takes on genetically modified organisms.
JS: After I finished Dive!, I planted a garden with my son, Finn. He’s become obsessed with seeds, particularly with saving them. He has a heightened awareness of life, seeds and where our food comes from because of Dive! Then, shortly after the earthquake in Haiti, I saw this tiny article that said thousands of peasants were marching in the streets of Haiti and burning seeds in defiance of this gift that Monsanto had given to the country. That’s when I really became interested in GMOs. I realized that there was another film here.
NFM: What, specifically, does the GMO documentary cover?
JS: It attempts to answer a few questions: How is it possible that Americans are eating GMOs without knowing it or that nobody even knows what these foods are? Is there something wrong with us in that we don’t care and have grown numb? Or have GMOs been foisted upon us like a conspiracy? As I dig deeper, I’m finding it’s a combination of these things. Haiti is the counterpoint to our indifference and ignorance. Why are they marching in the streets and we’re not? Where did they get this wakefulness from? We’re still in production and raising funds to finish filming.
NewHope360 hosted a #naturalchat Twitter Chat with the GMO Film Project in October. Read the transcript [PDF] to learn more about the film.