When farmers had harvested their crops, there was always something left behind, usually because it could not be gotten economically or efficiently.
However way back in the day, a certain portion of the crop was deliberately left behind for the poor, for widows and children. In fact, not to get all scholarly here, it was commanded by The Holiness Code and both the Bible and the Qu'ran. The practice stuck and for hundreds of years a portion was left for the less fortunate. This was called the right of usufruct which allowed people to come in and take the leavings as long as no property was damaged or destroyed in doing so. Gradually those rights went away as modern times arrived. Everything got real "organized," big machinery rolled in and bye bye gleaners. Until now.
Gleaning is making a comeback. Big time. With hard times comes the awareness that waste is wrong.
Living in Sonoma, there is food all around me. Fruit trees are in peoples' yards or grow by the side of the road untended. Berry bushes sprawl everywhere, cactus fruit and cactus paddles, olive and walnut trees, not to mention the figs and wild plum. I could go on... Most of this stuff just sits there and falls to the ground uneaten, either because people don't know they can eat it or they don't know how to store or use it.
It's not just the country either. When we lived in Santa Monica we had olive trees, lemon trees, avocado, guava and cactus. The neighbors had loquats. In fact there are a lot of loquat trees in Los Angeles just growing wild. A friend used to bring me bags of loquats that grew outside her apartment house and I'd give her back jars of loquat chutney. There are edible things all around us, even in the city, and people are starting to take notice.
This is where the gleaning comes in. Here in Sonoma my friend Kristen Vigurie who owns Junipero & Co saw all the food around us just going to waste and decided to start a gleaning movement right here in Sonoma.
The idea is to get produce that people either can't use or are willing to donate after the harvest, translate (can) those goods into things to eat, and either donate them to the local foodbank or sell them and donate the money. I went on my first glean this last week , the subject was apples.Alan and I showed up at Kirstens shop bright and early and drove out to a nearby property where the owner had offered us his apple trees.
Jim Kent was out in his vineyard tending his grapes.
Marin Organic which is in the next county down from Sonoma, has a lot of great information and has declared September 20th as the First Annual National Gleaning Day.
Meanwhile I've turned my apples into Kashmiri Apple Chutney and I'll be posting the recipe soon.
Vote For Me:
As you may know, I'm entered in the Project Foodbuzz Foodblogger of The Year Competition.
So what exactly is this Project Foodbuzz Contest and why do I want it so badly???
Project Food Blog is the first-ever interactive competition where thousands of Foodbuzz Featured Publishers are competing in a series of culinary blogging challenges for the chance to advance and a shot at the ultimate prize: $10,000 and a special feature on Foodbuzz.com for one year
Voting is now open and I'm trying to make the cut to the next round. Please register to vote on Foodbuzz.com (it's free!) or if you're already a member, do me a solid, give me a vote and help me get to the next round.
Here's my entry for Challenge #1 Where I'm supposed to tell you a bit about what makes me tick.
Project Foodbuzz Challenge #1 Cooking My Way To India
Thanks so much to everyone for all your encouragement and support!