I was going to talk about free food today, but I'd rather talk about the larger issue of which free food is only a part, and that's getting hooked up locally.
This is sortof an amorphous concept, but it's way key. Here's one aspect of it: I get free shrimp and free oysters and occasionally free all sorts of other sea creatures because I signed on to be an oyster taster over to the aquatic foods lab.
Every few months they'll do another experiment where they, for instance, compare oysters from all over the continent to determine whether there are any qualities specific to oysters from a certain area.
Or the industry will come up with some revolutionary (and always revolting) method of processing oysters for shipping or storing and we oyster tasters will be required to eat the proceeds and report the patently obvious: "freezing oysters and then hurling them at a wall to bust them out of their shells and then sweeping up them and a few bits of their pulverized shells and throwing the whole mess in a big ol' plastic bucket, refreezing it, and trucking it halfway across the country may save you $0.03 per oyster in shelling/shipping costs, but it loses you money in the long run because unless they're a stressed out middlemanagement demon tasked with stocking the buffet table for a cocktail party in the ninth circle of hell, there is no one on earth or below who will buy that nasty 'product.'"
By declaring myself willing to eat swill occasionally, I make myself eligible for the occasional supertreat. For instance, sometimes the oysters are good. If you like oysters, good oysters is a reason to eat bad oysters, and that's really saying something, because there is nothing worse than a bad oyster. Nothing. I don't mean "bad" as in "spoiled"--a spoiled oyster isn't the worst thing in the world; eating it would bring on merciful death. I mean bad as in gravely mistreated. But good oysters make it worth it.
Sometimes? They have extras? And they send us home with bagsful. Bags full of live, fresh, salty, happy, icey, bivalved darlings. Two, three, four dozen.
It is worth it.
So that is one of a few ways I'm hooked up. Get hooked up. Find out what's around locally. Nose around. Take all offers.