"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Scavenge City (Gleaner's Pantry)

After moaning and wailing yesterday in this space about how hard it is to feed everybody, today I received an amazing bounty of free food. The two things are not directly related - it just happened that way.

Right up the road from my house, there is a small institution called the Gleaner's Pantry. I knew about it, in a general way, but I had never stopped by to check it out. The Gleaners collect expired or imperfect produce and baked goods from area grocery stores and then sort it and allow members to collect it for home use. Most of the food is perfectly fit for human consumption, and whatever isn't is taken away for chickens or pigs.

There has been a lot of press recently about the amount of food wasted in this country, and at the Gleaner's Pantry it is easy to see for oneself. A room, about twenty by thirty, was absolutely filled to bursting with food. This happens twice a week, and represents only a very small portion of the food thrown away by just a couple of local stores. Gleaning seems to me like a win/win situation - I get free or extremely cheap nutritious food, and the food is diverted from the landfills, where it would generate methane and contribute to greenhouse gases.

It works like this: for a yearly fee of $150, plus 2 hours of volunteer work per month, a person can come collect food twice a week. The first gleaning is free. Here's what I brought home today - if it's a representative sample, then it's an extremely good deal:

a large bunch of grapes
half a dozen apples
three grapefruit
three bananas
3 pounds or so assorted greens - spinach, kale, and collards
big bunch parsley
six limes
six big tomatoes
a dozen potatoes
a dozen yellow bell peppers
a dozen hot peppers
three loaves of rye bread
a beautiful pomegranate

Everything I brought home is fresh enough - not "just got home from the grocery store" fresh, but certainly as fresh as most of the stuff in my refrigerator is right now. Only the greens really ought to be used today, and so I am making my dad's curry. He uses beef, but I'm using goat (Recipe in Lieu of Post (Dad's Spinach Curry)).

Then, after my visit to the pantry, I went to my neighbor's house to strip his apple trees. We were invited at church last weekend to go and get as many apples as we liked. Alas, there aren't enough to make it worthwhile to drag out and sterilize the apple press, but there are plenty of apples for eating, juicing, and probably for another gallon or so of applesauce. Now it's cold enough, they will keep very nicely in the shed.

I brought the neighbors some home baked pumpkin bread, and if we go back for more apples, I will bring smoked salmon. I have a whole lot of smoked salmon in the fridge - that's the other free bounty I received recently. There was a raffle as the tamagochi's school's open house, and I won a gigantic filet of king salmon.

Funny how quickly I can go from feeling put upon and whiny to feeling blessed and thankful. There is still the same amount of work to do - more! - but my attitude has done a 180. Now I'd better go wash some greens.


Anonymous said...

What a treasure... I volunteered at a local food pantry and was so saddened by the amount of food that wasn't taken by people who didn't want to "prepare" it. At that time, I was unemployed, so was able to take some of it home. Now I don't qualify for it... one of the other food banks routinely gives me the old produce and milk for my animals, unfortunately they've kept it too long to be of use. The waste is so sad!