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What is Gleaning?

Gleaning & Paige's Pantry

Valerie Chiappone

Gleaning is a practice of food gathering that has existed since ancient times. After farmers harvested their lands once, any food that was forgotten or left behind would be available for those less fortunate to gather so they could feed themselves. Gleaning has even been mentioned in the Bible as a form of charity: “And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner.” (Leviticus 19:10 ESV) It provided a safety net for the poor and was an integral part of agricultural life in Western societies until the Industrial Revolution.

During this time, court rulings that strengthened private property laws made it more difficult for the poor to glean leftover food from a farmer’s harvest.

Nowadays, the charitable impact of gleaning is more important than ever. Not only is it a kind thing to do for the poor, it is also a means of reducing food waste. It is estimated that approximately 30- 40% of food is wasted in the United States. A significant portion of this food is wasted on farms.

Food that doesn’t look good enough for supermarket shelves is often thrown out, even when the food is edible. Contracts with retailers and suppliers encourage farmers to grow more food than they can sell. High labor costs prevent farmers from hiring more laborers to pick food. These factors, among others, are often out of the control of farmers. However, gleaning can alleviate such problems.

Volunteer gleaners can reduce the amount of excess food going to waste, take food that isn’t necessarily perfect, and provide farmers with much-needed assistance. As the saying goes, “many hands make light work.”

Paige’s Pantry’s method of gleaning fruits from backyard gardens and small, family-run farms reduces food waste and assists the less fortunate in a variety of ways. Fruit trees in farms and gardens can easily produce more than a single person can eat.

By picking these trees and distributing their fruits to the needy, more people than just their owners can benefit from the nutritious fruits the tree provides. It is also the case that people do not utilize the fruit from backyard fruit trees simply because they have

no idea what to do with it.

We attach recipes to every bag of fruit so that the recipients of the fruit can utilize it to make something tasty.

In conclusion, gleaning may be an ancient practice, but the values of helping others and reducing waste are still relevant in this day and age.


Please welcome our new feature blogger, Valerie Chiappone!

Valerie Chiappone is a 2010 graduate of the University of San Diego. She received a B.A. in English with minors in Asian Studies and Philosophy. Her poetry has been published in both the 2014-15 and 2017-18 editions of the San Diego Poetry Annual. Her hobbies include playing with her cat Cashmere, listening to music, and studying Japanese.

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