DOI link for After Market
After Market book
At first glance, the peach at the bottom of the supermarket dumpster, perfectly ripe, seems incongruous. So do the day-old bread, the barely bruised avocado, the organic smoothie still sealed in its bottle, the individually wrapped slices of cheesecake, the trays of single-source chocolate, or any of the other items I have recovered from Seattle dumpsters. Like businesses across the industrialised world, they routinely throw away food that still has use value. Along with it, they seem to abandon the time, money, and labour invested therein. How could this be so? What sort of an economy is this? While such commercial surpluses abdicate their exchange value, this chapter argues, they nonetheless go on to circulate elsewhere, establishing critical sites for the social reproduction—or transformation—of capital accumulation. Thus are capital, surplus, and the afterlives of food waste intimately connected. Dovetailing with Jon Cloke’s work in this very volume on vastogenic regimes, this chapter therefore asks what cultural, economic, and political systems produce and are underwritten by unspoiled, abandoned food surpluses, particularly commercial surpluses. From the pantries of dumpster-divers, to the church basements of emergency meal providers, to the menus of after-market enterprises like the Daily Table, I argue that such surplus shadow economies are structurally imbricated in the production of waste, value, and capital.