News - January 22, 2009


It’s eleven thirty pm on Wednesday 14 January, and Stefan is carrying a large empty shopping bag as we cycle through the cold night air. The streets are empty, the only sound our squeaking bikes. When the smell of garbage reaches our nostrils, it’s time for action. Because we’re doing some after-hours shopping – known as ‘skipping’.

I throw open the lid of the container that’s parked at the entrance to the supermarket. Putting on our Petzl head torches, we set about scrabbling through this big lucky dip. We fancy a bit of meat tonight. After tearing open a few rubbish sacks, we strike lucky and snap up a bag full of luxury meats. Satisfied, we cycled home to feast on turkey in the dead of night.

We are not the only students who skip. There’s a whole group in Wageningen who eat what supermarkets throw out. I’ve been in one student house where most of what was eaten came out of the skips. Very economical! At the Supercoop container we used to meet other hungry students who gathered to swap food they didn’t like. The tasty rubbish was kept in a locked container, but everyone knew the code. Sadly, this container has been taken away, so we now skip at other supermarkets. It’s not as much fun, but the food’s just as tasty.
If you think skip food is dangerous, think again. We once went for coffee with microbiologist Rijkelt Beumer, who told us that you can safely eat meat that’s past its sell-by date as long as you heat it thoroughly. There are a couple of products you have to be careful with, like custard and ham. And make good use of your senses. If it stinks, chuck it out. If not, eet smakelijk!