Traditionally Lancaster has a street market on Saturdays and Wednesdays. In the old days (my time) it would generally be a veggie market stalls on Market Street with a variety of produce sellers hawking vegetables all day long. These days it is more of an eclectic mix of food stalls, Indian, Chinese, French Bread, smoked fish, you name it, but there are still the veggie stalls selling their wares for bargain basement prices.
When I think back to the old days of the street market I remember how my sister and I would take a couple of bags down town and hang around waiting for the vendors to pack up shop for the day. They would carefully pack up their boxes of produce and toss aside anything that they did not want to cart home for the day. The odd Onion, a Cucumber that would not make it to the next week, a couple of potatoes that they thought were below their standards. Nancy and I would stand there and wait for the vendors to leave and pounce before the garbage trucks arrived and fill our bags with all sorts of vegetables. We would very proudly carry our haul of veggies back to our Mum who would use them to feed us for the following week.
Similarly, Nancy and I would stalk the coal truck that delivered coal to all of the cellars in the neighborhood. Our streets were very high hills, and the coal truck would have to turn around at the top of the hills. Invariably the trucks would shed coal when they made the turn at the top of the hill. Nancy and I would take bags up at the turning points and collect the coal that the trucks shed and proudly take it back to our Mum, that little bit of coal that we collected could keep us warm for a week until the next paycheck came in.
Damn this sounds like a dreadful life but Nancy and I actually enjoyed doing this stuff.
In our own little way we were recycling long before recycling was actually in style and I am proud of that. When I was home it actually crossed my mind to wait for the veggie stalls to close down for the day and see what they left behind for the garbage trucks, I was actually curious to see what I could harvest from the leftovers. Having said that I am sure that there are a boat load of “freegans” waiting to pounce on the left over veggies, because that is such a thriving movement both in the UK and the US right now, I would bet that I would be battling a boat load of students from Lancaster University who are thriving on the “freegan” lifestyle.
Who could of known it, my sister and I were “freegans” forty years before it was a movement.