Let us define our terms. According to the dictionary in my Mac:
verb [ trans. ]
extract (information) from various sources : the information is gleaned press clippings.
• collect gradually and bit by bit : objects gleaned from local markets.
• historical gather (leftover grain or other produce) after a harvest : [as n. ] ( gleaning) the conditions of farm workers in the 1890s made gleaning essential.
Gleaning, also known as a second harvesting, is the primary activity that keeps the food banks around the world in stock. Whether it's produce hand picked by volunteers in the field or donated by the grower, or produce and canned good solicited from and donated by individuals and retail grocery strores, the retrieved food will eventually find its way to those who need it. 40 to 50% of the food ready for harvesting never gets eaten! If more people were to become involved in the gleaning process, much of this otherwise wasted food would be available to food banks.
Here are some extracts from an excellent article that can be read in its entirety at:
"Waste is pervasive and occurs at every level of our ever-protracted food supply chain. It begins at the source with crops left to be retilled into the fields and concludes with yellowing lettuce in our refrigerators.
We are all familiar with the latter, even the most diligent of shoppers, but few have any context to understand the former. Volunteering as a field gleaner is perhaps the best way to gain context and insight into our food production system. It promises to revolutionize the way you think about all things food, there is no way it could not."
"This is critical time in which an increasing number of Americans are relying on hunger relief services for their access to food. Feeding America estimates that 1 in 6 Americans depended on local food pantry services to "get by" in 2010. At the same time, we are wasting food at an alarming rate, by the millions of pounds every day. "
"The reasons for food waste are plentiful, but pivot on two modern realities: inflated consumer standards (exactly when did we decide our apples had to be perfectly round and our potatoes eyeless?), volatile pricing due to the power resting almost exclusively with grocery stores and never farmers."
Here is an example of the above mentioned inflated consumer standards which can be found in the list of official USDA guidelines:
§51.2455 U.S. No. 1.
"U.S. No. 1'' consists of carrots of similar varietal characteristics the roots of which are firm, fairly clean, fairly well colored, fairly smooth, well formed, and which are free from soft rot, and free
from damage caused by freezing, growth cracks, sunburn, pithiness, woodiness, internal discoloration, oil spray, dry rot, other disease, insects or mechanical or other means. Bunches shall have tops which are fresh and free from decay and free from damage caused by freezing, seed stems, yellowing or other discoloration, disease, insects or mechanical or other means. Unless otherwise specified, the bunches shall have full tops and the length of tops shall be not more than
20 inches. (See §51.2459.)
(a) Size. Unless otherwise specified, the diameter of each carrot shall be not less than three-fourths inch."
The list to be found in the report provides the guidelines for just about every fruit, vegetable, nut, chicken, egg, all other poultry, and four legged animal. So, during its journey from the fields to the supermarket, TONS of perfectly edible food gets tossed because it fails to meet some arbitrary "standard."
Today I am including a piece written by Robert Kauffman, a fine story teller.
Hope this has given you a few things to chew on.
Thanks again for reading Free the Food!! Pass it on!