- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - Meet Rob Greenfield next week and sniff him too. He’s clean, though he hasn’t showered since April 20, 2013.

And though he always eats out of trash bins.

The personable, simple-living activist and inspirational writer from San Diego, California, is bicycling across the country for the second straight summer to call attention to the one-half of the U.S. food supply that is discarded because it’s “expired” or blemished.

Meanwhile, Greenfield says, one out of seven Americans lacks consistent access to adequate food. Vast pools of water, pesticides and fossil fuels are squandered, producing a bounty that rots in landfills.

According to a 2013 United Nations report, global food waste translates to an annual $750 billion economic loss and causes widespread environmental damage.

Greenfield has been nicking away at the terrible toll and drawing international media gaze for more than a year by Dumpster diving. On Friday, Sept. 19, he’ll glean some of Lancaster’s spoils.

Then, during a free public “Food Waste Fiasco” presentation at 10 a.m. Sept. 20 outside Central Market in Penn Square, he’ll show what he finds. The food will have come from Dumpsters in other areas of the county.

“The idea is to create a shocking visual display,” Greenfield says, but “it goes much deeper than just food waste.” Rampant U.S. materialism “is dangerous to the planet.”

An overhead shot from a previous Fiasco in Greenfield’s native Wisconsin shows him sitting cross-legged on the grass with a giant pinwheel of wholesome-looking bakery fare, veggies, fruit and packaged goods.

The man who has prepared gourmet meals from garbage is not apt to starve while trying to open local eyes.

Lancaster doula and healthy-eating proponent Gwendolyn McComsey invited Greenfield to the Garden Spot after a friend shared one of his Facebook posts.

“I began following him” by chance more than a year ago, McComsey relates via email. “I enjoyed learning about his adventures. … When he released the information for his current tour, I saw a gap in his schedule between D.C. and Philly, and I suggested he come to Lancaster and offered to host an event. I’m very excited to have him in our town!”

Lititz resident Catherine Rivera said in an email that she’s helping to welcome Greenfield here because she wants to spread his message about funneling unwanted food to needy families.

“I know what it’s like to skip a meal to feed my kids, and it’s humiliating,” Rivera says. “Even more humiliating is the fact that I live in what is supposed to be the greatest nation on the planet, yet it’s hard to hear the patriotic music over the sound of the grumbling tummies.”

Such cries are rising around the world, where Dumpster diving is also known as skip diving or binning.

Britisher Tristram Stuart’s “Feeding the 5000” campaign to rescue bin-bound food is marking five years. In France this summer, Parliament proposed a law that would force large stores to donate still-edible food instead of trashing it.

DumpsterMap.com, a Dumpster diving app, was introduced in May, according to Trashwiki.org.

Meanwhile, by Aug. 29, trash bin fuel had propelled Greenfield across the continent to within 40 miles of Detroit, Michigan. Contacted in transit, he pedaled 10 miles during the course of a phone interview. He’ll end his Off the Grid Across America tour this month in New York City.

He carries no money.

“I don’t know what I’ll be eatin’,” he says in his pleasant Midwestern drawl. “I don’t know where I’ll be stayin’.”

He hopes to live another half-dozen decades and has outlined his game plan at RobGreenfield.TV. On Aug. 28, he celebrated 28 years by diving for birthday cake and finding it, after three tries.

He was just a kid when “National Geographic” and “Animal Planet” episodes stoked his wanderlust, he says. “I just always had a desire to explore the natural wonders of the world.”

He set out at 11 with a friend to pedal 30 miles from Ashland to Iron River, Wisconsin. The expected parental lift back home hit a snag. “I tried to call my mom collect but my brother didn’t accept it.” And so the young explorers gritted out the whole distance on their bikes.

Greenfield later trekked solo through Southeast Asia and Africa, giving back to villagers by building rainwater collection systems and a library.

Back in the United States, the University of Wisconsin graduate became a sustainability activist who lives in a 6-by-6-foot closet. He pared his belongings to little more than some clothing, a tent, a water purifier and a bicycle with a bamboo frame.

His Greenfield Group social media site oversees the Goodfluence Fund, a rolling micro-grant program supporting grass-roots projects toward “a happier, healthier world.” Greenfield is also an ambassador to the One Percent For the Planet phalanx of corporate contributors to environmental groups.

Otherwise, he has few tethers.

His day job is talking about the fact that he doesn’t have one.

And people have listened. Among the news outlets that have interviewed Greenfield are NBC, ABC, Fox, The Huffington Post, BBC and The Guardian.

There’s much more progress to be made, says Greenfield, who describes himself as “a dude making a difference” among 7 billion people.

The big reason so much good food still gets tossed is that “stores are lazy,” he adds. Despite a 1996 law that protects good faith donors from liability, there’s no systematic way to redistribute stuff.

Greenfield, who says large industrial operations are the worst offenders, plans to target specific businesses next.

He’ll keep living on a shoestring - “I’ve found that you need amazingly little to be happy” - and washing up with water from streams, lakes, oceans and leaky hydrants. (Takes about a gallon. A typical shower uses 15.)

And, of course, diving.

Greenfield says he eats a healthful diet by scavenging outside the stores he’d patronize if he were laying out cash. He visits during business hours to increase the chance of meeting people and explaining his viewpoint. Converts are many. Confrontations are rare.

“The police came one time in Iowa.” he says, and most of the cops wound up friending him on Facebook. “We hung out half an hour before they took off.”

Greenfield says Dumpster diners run no more risk of contracting a bug than do ordinary shoppers.

“I actually rarely ever wash food that I eat and I’ve never been sick.” Or hungry. “A lot of times there’s so much food in there you don’t even have to climb in. You can reach over.”

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Online:

http://bit.ly/1ABOTNl

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Information from: Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era , http://lancasteronline.com

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