Monday, May 16, 2011

Gleaning


Les Glaneuses by Jean-François Millet

I guess I am one of those "foodies" that are starting to get a bad name in the press. In my defense, I am a "foodie" in the sense that I love food, I think about food a lot, I spend a great deal of time making food for my family. I'm not interested in any of the precious movements that are out there right now--eating all parts of an animal, artsy presentations of exotica, etc--just interested in food and in people having enough quality food. There's my new favorite word, "enough." It's frankly really scary how many people do not have enough quality food.

I have spent much of this past year reading about food inequality and food deserts*, reading about different issues related to food at the website Civil Eats, thinking about getting better foods into the schools. I'm happy to see that to some extent there has been movement in the right direction regarding the last concern, at least at my daughter's elementary school. Local produce does show up on the menu. Whether it's cooked in an appealing or appetizing manner, as well as whether or not any child will actually reach out for those vegetables and fruits, is another question altogether. I don't think it's exactly an Alice Waters sort of kitchen there, but at least they're moving in the right direction.

Thinking and reading about these issues, however, does not get quality food into anyone's belly. I've known about a local non-profit called Fields of Grace for a couple years now, but always assumed I couldn't participate because I'm gone for such a large chunk of the summer. And then I finally had the "ah ha" moment when I realized (I know, how old am I??) that much of what is grown is not ready for harvesting until later in the summer. Duh. So I went to a training meeting last night and I am really really excited to finally be able to do something locally. There are two different aspects to Fields of Grace: gleaning at local farms and harvesting at a place called Giving Greens, which is made from four different families using easement land to grow food exclusively for a local food bank distribution center. Everything gleaned at the farms and harvested from Giving Greens goes directly to the distribution center and from there is sent out to the 27 food banks in our area.

I don't have a garden yet and frankly, I don't know anything about gardening. Isn't this a terrific opportunity to learn about gardening, local farm production, and to finally start walking the talk?



*I remember visiting a good friend in Baltimore in the 1990s and going to the local grocery store (in a very poor neighborhood) only to find no decent produce and scarcely anything unprocessed or not past expiration dates in the entire store. Some neighborhoods in the US don't even have that, residents having to rely on places like 7/11 for their groceries if they don't have means of transportation to a grocery store.

1 comment:

MilkMaid09 said...

Nice post - love the artwork too.
Yes, enough is my new favorite word too and this is my first year starting a garden. So far I have lettuce and radishes up in a raised bed, but the big garden is still too wet to get anything planted.