- The Plate
Market Offers a Gleaning Model for the Modern Age
Gleaning—the act of collecting unharvested food that farmers leave in the fields to feed the hungry—dates back to at least biblical times. The ancient practice was a safety net to ensure that people wouldn’t go hungry in fragmented societies without centralized services for those in need. It has religious roots—the Torah commands farmers to leave some crops unharvested and Ruth gleaned to stay alive in the Hebrew Bible story. Jesus gleaned.
In the modern world, big farms don’t encourage people meandering around. But anti-hunger organizations still practice loose forms of gleaning and many farmers still love participating in this time-honored practice. FreshFarm Markets, an American farmers’ market organizer in Washington, D.C., ramps up its gleaning campaign during American Thanksgiving.