Dear Abby: Dad’s dumpster-diving habit causes his family concern

Dear Abby: I have an issue with my father and don’t know where to turn. Dad is in his early 80s and – aside from poor eyesight – he’s in good health. I’m concerned because he has developed an unusual habit. He likes to look through the dumpsters behind the grocery store.

Initially he told me it was to get old produce for compost in his garden. But I have learned that he eats some of the things he finds. I have tried telling him this is dangerous. He could cut himself digging through the trash or get food poisoning. He refuses to listen and insists that what he is doing is safe. (He is NOT forced to do this out of economic necessity. He has enough money to buy groceries.)

The situation has become critical because he is now planning to cook something he found in the dumpster for a family gathering. I told him not to do it. If he does prepare food from the trash, I told him he must let people know where it came from, so they can make an informed decision about whether to eat it. Abby, please help. – Grossed Out

Dear Grossed Out: If you can’t convince your father to disclose to relatives that the food he’s serving may have come from a dumpster, YOU should alert them to that possibility.

P.S. A worldwide trend I heard about recently is something called “freeganism.” (The term is derived from a cross between “free” and “vegan.”) Freegans “rescue” food from behind markets to share among themselves to combat food waste, and in Paris, France, there’s even a restaurant that serves food procured this way for a reduced fee.

Caveat emptor: People who consume this food should be aware that the food may be past its nutritional peak, and they may risk a food-borne illness if it wasn’t stored properly.

Dear Abby: I’ve often wondered what happens to people with an immediate problem that you are unable to answer in print in a timely manner. For example, a bride with an upcoming wedding, or someone trying to decide where to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas. Do you write them outside of your column? – Just Wondering in Harrisburg, Pa.

Dear Just Wondering: Yes. Time-sensitive questions are often dealt with separately, apart from my column.