Gleaning for Good



alexpgp, via Flickr

Where do you get your food? Ryan Geertsma and Christy VanArragon describe one way to save and share food from farms and markets.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight, I’m Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2 

And I’m Christy Van Arragon. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

It is a Thursday in Guatemala City, in the country of Guatemala. As usual, Justin Mehl is at the local market. He is with his friend, Edgar. They are carrying empty bags. They have no money. But they have hope. They hope that today the market workers will be kind to them.

Voice 3 

“Do you have any fruit that you cannot sell? Or do you have any vegetables that are close to turning bad?”

Voice 2 

Sometimes the market workers have extra food. Justin and Edgar hope to receive this food for free. They will use it to feed a group of struggling men. Justin and Edgar are gleaning.  Today’s Spotlight is on gleaning for good.

Voice 1 

It is often difficult for people who are poor to get food. Gleaning can be an effective way to solve this problem. People and organizations can glean from fields and trees. They can also glean food that remains at markets when the selling day is over. They can collect this food and give it to people who need it - before it becomes bad to eat.

Voice 2 

The act of gleaning is a very old idea. It is written about in the oldest part of the Christian Bible. In the book of Leviticus, God gives this command:

Voice 4 

“When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields. Do not collect what the harvesters drop.  It is the same with your fruit or grape crop. Do not take every last group of grapes from the vines or branches. Do not collect the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”

Voice 1 

Christians believe that God’s command provided the poor with a chance. It gave them a chance to get their own food by gleaning from the harvested fields. It gave them a chance to provide for their own families.

Voice 2 

But this is not all the Bible says about gleaning. Later in the Bible there is a story about gleaning. It shows how God’s command should work.

Voice 1 

The story is about a woman named Ruth. Ruth’s husband dies. Ruth could return to her own family. However, she decides to stay with her husband’s mother - Naomi. Together they return to Naomi’s home country. There they must find food so they can live. Ruth says to Naomi,

Voice 5 

“Let me go to the fields. I will collect the grain that remains in the fields after the harvest workers. I will glean in the field of anyone who shows me kindness.”

Voice 2 

Ruth goes to the field of a man named Boaz. Boaz tells his workers not to gather the grain that drops to the ground. Instead, they are to leave extra grain for Ruth. Ruth gleans from Boaz’s field. Then she takes the grain home to Naomi.

Voice 1 

Since this ancient time, gleaning has become less common. One reason is that now more people live in cities or towns. This means that people do not live near fields where food crops grow. So it is not easy for people to glean from fields.

Voice 2 

Gleaning has also decreased because farming technology has become so effective. A machine can harvest more land quicker than a human. And it can clear a field more completely. So there is very little left for people to glean.

Voice 1 

Harvesting technology has improved food production. But it has also produced negative results. When large amounts of crops are harvested, they are often stored in large buildings. They wait to be sold or transported. Sometimes, if there is too much food harvested, it is difficult to sell. No one wants or needs it. When this happens, food may begin to decay.

Voice 2 

There are organizations and individuals that want to prevent this kind of waste. Anna Chan is one such individual. She gleans from the markets in California. Then she brings the food to local not for profit food organizations. She hopes market workers will recognize their unnecessary waste. If the workers give some of their food away, they will prevent unsold food from decaying. And this food will feed people who cannot pay for it.

Voice 1 

Joseph Gitler is the leader of an organization called Leket Israel. This organization is Israel’s largest not for profit food organization. They also work to provide food for the people that most need it. Gitler talked with the Jerusalem Post newspaper about farming and food waste.

Voice 6 

“Israel’s farms are very productive. We are blessed with a great amount of fruit and vegetables. The difficulty of that is waste. Sometimes it is not profitable for a farmer to harvest all of his fields. Other times, the farmer cannot collect all of his crop before it begins to decay.”

Voice 2 

Organizations like Leket Israel believe gleaning from fields can reduce this kind of waste. In fact, Leket Israel has a program called ‘Glean the Land with Project Leket’. The program organizes volunteers to harvest extra food from fields. These volunteers work and give their time for free. Gitler told the Jerusalem Post about how this program began.

Voice 6 

“We started the Gleaning project in December, 2005. A farmer in Kfar Haim called us. First, he told us he had a large amount of fruit he could not sell. He asked, ‘Could you come get it?’ No problem, we said. A few days later he called again. He said ‘A lot of perfectly good fruit had fallen on the ground. Could we find people to gather it up?’ Again we were happy to do this. A week or so later, he called to invite us to come and harvest fruit directly from his trees. We organized our volunteers… We organized several hundred people to collect the fruit at different times. This situation was good for everyone involved.”

Voice 1 

Gleaning may not be as common as it was thousands of years ago. But now, more and more organizations are recognizing it usefulness. However, it does not take an organization to make gleaning work. One individual can glean extra fruit from the market or even from trees in their community. They can bring this fruit to a local food charity. Or, they could even give it directly to someone they know. Like in the story of Ruth, this simple act is gleaning for good. It helps the community. And it saves good food from going to waste.

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Courtney Schutt. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “Gleaning for Good”.

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you ever waste food? How do you prevent food waste?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on June 14, 2012

Food is necessary to life. We need to get food everyday. Food is necessary to health and development. We need to get good food. Food helps us be alive, be healthy and develop. Everyone needs to get food everyday. In the life each of us has our conditions. We may get food everyday. We may be difficult to get food. We desire to get good food. We desire to develop our spiritual lives. All of us try much to live our lives well. We make much effort for good things. Good things help our spiritual lives be good. When we live our lives for good things we develop our spiritual lives.

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thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on July 04, 2013

When I was child, I used to glean rice on my uncle’s paddy field and brought home for feeding my chicken,duck.
It helped me save some money to buy poultry food.

In think gleaning is best thing to help someone needs food not being available to buy it.

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on July 04, 2013

This gleaning food from fields and markets is really a great idea that has been helping many poor people to live without starvation.
Thanks for an article!

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hermit peter
said on July 09, 2017

the story about the widow who left to live with her husband’ s mother, told us the field owner is so good to the widow, he not only left grain to her, but also did not embarrass her.
in china, gleaning is not common. someone lived in city prefer begging money to collecting food, especially when they are healthy enough