There is a lot of talk about food waste and solutions for saving this food.
One third of crops are wasted during harvesting and processing (largely due to mechanisation) once that food makes it to the grocery store another third of it is not sold, what we buy is brought home and one quarter of it is thrown out because it goes bad before we eat it.
Check out the National Zero Waste Councils Issues Brief and the great response from the BC Food Systems Network.
How much of our food actually gets from the field to our plate?
I’m not sure, there is tons of research out there (Save the Food has a cool video on it) but it all points towards the same thing: There must be some way we can curb this waste!!
I would like to share my favorite way of addressing food waste – GLEANING!
This ancient practice is the process of harvesting the part of the crop that is left behind after harvest or is not worth harvesting. With the complexity of the modern food system there are now many ways to rescue food along it’s long journey to our table.
For someone living in a rural location it is easy to connect with farmers and find out where they have gleaning opportunities as they pop up through the season. There are also always people that have old fruit trees, exess produce and even wild edibles on their property that they are happy to share or offer in exchange for something else.
The most important question remains: How do we feed the people in our society that need fresh food the most? Little of this extra food makes it to organizations that provide emergency food because perishable food it hard to store and available in short seasonal time frames. A feast or a famine that requires infrastructure to handle.
A great bit of research was done on this in New Brunswick lately by the University of Moncton.
This has not stopped caring people from organizing, having fun and getting this food to those that need it (while picking a bit for their own uses)!
Some organisations have gone beyond serving their own communities and have developped resources to help other groups organise themselves around food rescue – I would like to share some of these with you:
- Super gleaning tool kit from PEI Foof Exchange
- Food Reclamation with Loving Spoonful in Kingston ON
- All things Food – Bouffe 360 Gleaning 101
- Kent Food Security Network gleaning toolkit
We can increase our personal access to fresh food, invite people that need fresh food to join in on the harvest and provide some for those that don’t have the means to do so!
What is best of all in my opinion is the empowering abilitity of opting out of the current food system that we live under, the very food system that is often a barrier to healthy (usually local) nutritious food being accessible to those with limited resources.
Aaron Shantz – Community Coodinator with Our Food Southeast New Brunswick
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