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Dumpster diving is a practice as old as, well, dumpsters (or waste containers) are themselves. But a confluence of factors over the past several decades – including income inequality, wasteful food systems, and environmental and anti-consumerist movements – has given rise to an emerging subculture built around making use of what wealthy societies deem disposable. The short documentary Spoils: Extraordinary Harvest (2012) profiles three groups, each with their own philosophies and motivations, converging on the grocery story Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn to mine for imperfect but still-very-much-edible foods that would otherwise be bound for landfill. With its cast of eccentric characters, the US director Alex Mallis’s film succeeds as both an entertaining study of a subculture and an invitation to reflect on food waste as a matter of economic, environmental and social justice.
Director: Alex Mallis
The ancient world
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The cast of ‘misfit toys’ who keep life on an idyllic tourist island afloat
Biography and memoir
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To understand the limits of human senses, look to the wild world of animal cognition
Design and fashion
From sheep to sea – an ode to the iconic sweater that warms Cornish sailors
The revolutionary artist who propelled the Black Panther movement with imagery
Technology and the self
One woman prepares for the risky solitude of Georgia O’Keeffe’s American West
The ancient world
Sappho’s homoerotic poetry was beloved in ancient Greece – and burned centuries later
Human rights and justice
Beyond ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ – could a range of verdict options be more just?