Forget that expensive meal plan

Here's where to urban garden, scavenge and fish for your next free meal.

The hungry games. - AZIZA ASAT
Aziza Asat
The hungry games.

Produce surprise pack

Volunteer with Found NS (an organization aiming to reduce food waste) and you’ll share in their spoils. When farmers’ and produce growers’ unused crops are nearing over-ripeness, FoundNS volunteers pitch in to harvest the spoils and workers are rewarded by keeping a portion of the freshly picked produce. Past hauls have included beets and kale, and Found NS co-founder Laurel Schut says the amount of growers registering with the organization is on the rise.

Forager’s fancy

Can’t wait for your own spinach to sprout? Another option is to go foraging—searching fields, parks and forests for edibles. Wild blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, sumac, asparagus, chicory, clover, dandelion, ginseng, mustard, watercress and mint can all be found growing in Nova Scotia (amongst many other plants, some even within city limits). Just keep in mind that plenty of plants that look edible can be harmful, so do your research and bring along a field guide.

Build your own (dumpster) bowl

A combo platter for the indecisive and adventurous. Grab a friend, a bag and possibly a step-stool and try your hand at dumpster-diving. You might find nothing, you might strike gold—particularly if you familiarize yourself with garbage pickup schedules so you can grab would-be waste at its freshest. Skip the major grocery chains (huge dumpsters pose a safety risk) and instead head for smaller, independent food shops and bakeries. Since many places won’t sell food that doesn’t look picture-perfect, crooked carrots and blemished bread are often disposed of while still perfectly edible. Another option not to be overlooked are the green bins at movie theatres. Time it right and while others are watching the previews, you can be bagging up your own still-warm popcorn.

Grow your own greens
Reduce your stomach’s carbon footprint with this hyper-local option: Find a vacant plot of land and turn it into an impromptu mini-garden by planting a few seeds. There are close to a dozen municipally registered community gardens where you can start growing your produce along with other hungry Haligonians. Check out the city’s website for more information on the closest municipal garden to you, or how to go about applying to start your own. 

Seafood medley

At first glance, food from a dumpster might sound safer than catching anything living in Halifax Harbour. But avoid the wastewater pipes—and any bivalve shellfish like oysters, scallops and mussels—and there’s some decent fishing to be found on the water. That’s doubly true the further out you head towards Cow Bay, St. Margarets Bay and Fisherman’s Cove. Head out early in the morning or late in the evening to catch mackerel, pollack, squid and even striped bass. If your commute to class takes you across the harbour, you might even be able to pick up dinner on the way home, free of charge.

Soup de jour
Perfect for those who want to dip their toes (spoons?) in the freegan world, or for the times convenience trumps culinary adventure. The Loaded Ladle, housed inside the Dalhousie Student Union Building, offers free vegan soup to Dal students— often with a side of pita. A student-run organization looking to make sure that the time-starved (and plain ol’ starving) get fed, the Ladle only asks that you provide your own bowl and spoon.

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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