“My husband will be thrilled to have his favorite soup for dinner”, the slender, fair-haired woman says as I stow the tomatoes and zucchinis from my grandmother’s garden into her worn black backpack. With another “thank you”, the stranger leaves delighted, taking two steps at a time. I close the door of my apartment; happy the vegetables will not go to waste while I’m on vacation.
Founded by the NGO Wiener Tafel and the German filmmaker Valentin Thurn (Taste the Waste), the initiative foodsharing.at benefits everyone participating – it not only reduces food waste, it also helps save money.
Over 10.000 food savers have joined the platform since starting in May 2013, offering groceries they cannot or do not want to eat themselves in so-called Essenskörbe (food baskets). Like my vegetables, they can be picked up by anyone – at no cost.
Distributing the wealth
But Essenkörbe are not the only way to get free food. You can also make use of foodsharing.at’s FairTeiler network: private dwellings or shops with public refrigerators full of gratis groceries. One of oldest is situated in the 1st district, in the organic shop and restaurant BioWerkstatt. Yoghurt close to expiring, juices, fresh veggies – the selection will surprise you.
For the hunter-gatherers among us, check out Mundraub (a legal term for eating things that aren’t yours): two students from Berlin made a map of abandoned or ownerless fruit trees which can be harvested without charge. At this point, the list covers trees, bushes and herbal gardens in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, reaching as far as England, Norway and Morocco.
If climbing trees is not your style, go to your local bakery or fruit and vegetable market, either early in the morning or – even better – right before they close. There are usually plenty of unsold or unsellable products, and most of the owners are grateful to unload their surplus. They will happily hand over baked goods or bananas, oranges, cucumbers and all of that vitamin-rich goodness. For free.
Some current FairTeilers are:
Cafe 7*stern, Siebensterngasse 21, 1070
Tüwi Hofladen, Peter Jordan Str. 76, 1190
Weutzi´s Fairteiler, Köglergasse 11, 1010 (green door, please knock)
Simmeringer Hauptstraße 2-4, 1110
Mon – Fri 9:00 – 16:00
R.U.S.Z. Reparatur- und Service-Zentrum,
Lützowgasse 12, 1140 Vienna
Mon and Wed 9:00 – 17:00
Tue and Thu 9:00 – 19:00
Fri 9:00 – 13:00
FairTeiler VHS Donaustadt,
Bernoullistraße 1, 1220 Vienna
Mon – Thu 9:00 -19:30
Fri 9:00 – 19:00
Here is a map of current FairTeilers