Gleaning has been around for a very long time. Historically, going back to biblical times, farmers purposefully left the edges of their fields unpicked, and unharvested for the less fortunate. My mother currently lives in the area where my great-grandparents lived. It's an agricultural area. A lot of produce is grown there. She tells me that after a field is picked any leftovers are taken to local food banks. A practice that has endured for centuries. Ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of welfare. Some ancient Jewish communities required farmers to not reap all the way to the edges of a field so as to leave some for the poor. (Source: Wikipedia) There has actually been an uptick in the act of gleaning recently. Our current economic downturn seemingly a turning point. The desire to live simpler, to reach out to others. An urban gleaning movement has taken hold. Urban gleaners harvest public fruit: like picking from a neighbor's over-burdened tree; an untended orange tree is picked free of ripe fruit; trees that bear fruit in public places, parks, libraries, government buildings are targets as well. A group in Los Angeles, Fallen Fruit, has made it their mission to collect as much public produce as possible and give it to the poor, hungry and needy. Fallen Fruit has a list of gleaning 'Dos and Don'ts':
- Ask first, or leave a note with your contact information
- Take only what you need
- Be friendly
- Share your food
- Take a friend
- Go by foot
Maybe all of this giving, this generosity of spirit, is something positive that has come out of our nation's financial malaise. It reminds me of the story of Gramma Ora's pancakes and feeding the hobos. Her act of 'gleaning.' It makes me think of simpler times when the act of giving was just a part of life. No forethought, no planning. If someone had less than you, you helped. If they were hungry, you gave them food. It's nice to see that giving spirit returning. I thank my great-grandmother for setting the example for me. Those were some very lucky hobos.
My Status: Settling into late fall, happily. New cookbooks to try, some to review; new kitchen equipment to try out. More cooking, eating, writing, blogging coming soon.
Upcoming Posts: my personal, childhood food history as told by my mother, Dawn Goodman. Reviews: Cooking Light, a review of the redesign of the Time Inc. magazine. Bread Matters, a review of the new bread book by Andrew Whitley.