2022: Creating a Lexicon of Future

G is for Gleaning

Ruth Glendinning

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Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. It is a practice described in the Hebrew Bible that became a legally enforced entitlement of the poor in a number of Christian kingdoms.

In the modern world, gleaning is practised by humanitarian groups which distribute the gleaned food to the poor and hungry; in a modern context, this can include the collection of food from supermarkets at the end of the day that would otherwise be thrown away. There are a number of organizations that practice gleaning to resolve issues of societal hunger; the Society of St. Andrew, for example, is dedicated to the role.

Gleaning events occur wherever food is in excess. In addition to supermarkets, gleaning can also occur at farms in the field. Volunteers, called gleaners, visit a farm where the farmer donates what is left in their fields to collect and donate to a food bank. In New York State in 2010, this form of gleaning alone rescued 3.6 million pounds of fruits and vegetables. ~ Wikipedia

Gleaning is not a handout, but an opportunity for dignified work: The law didn’t say, “when you harvest your field, pick up every crumb and give some of them to people in need.” Instead, it instructed the Israelites to leave an opportunity for dignified employment that allowed the widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor a chance to provide for themselves.

There are so many ways that we can give, but the most meaningful, and the gifts that make the biggest, long-term, life-changing difference are gifts that provide opportunity. Fair trade employment, microfinance loans, education and job training, and legal advocacy do more than just fill a hungry stomach for a day or two. They actually produce opportunities for dignified employment and change that provides more than a temporary fix. ~ The Principle of Gleaning

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Ruth Glendinning

Community Architect // Poet // Future Story Lab // Lexicon of Future // Anti-Fragile Playbook // Peace Economics // Originator of S.L.O.W. Tech // #womenswork