Thursday, July 15, 2010

Waste Not – Local Church Group turns fruit and veggie leftovers into food for the World’s poor

Here’s a happy success story that includes green practices, charitable giving, and financially sound concepts. It’s also a wonderful volunteer opportunity – how about going gleaning for the day?

If you have never read the bible, you may have never heard the term “gleaning” before. Gleaning is the process of manually collecting the leftovers from a harvested field. In biblical times, wheat and grapes at the periphery of farmer’s plots were left aside by the farmer for the poor to collect (you can look up the passage online – search for Deuteronomy 24:19).

Today in Canada, we have a surplus of many crops as buyers for the grocery store chains demand consistency. If a head of cabbage is too small or too large, or if a red pepper is both red and green, or if an apple has a cosmetic brown spot that otherwise doesn’t affect the nutritional content, then the produce is not marketable. Often, these vegetables are simply turned back into the soil. What a waste of a growing season, fertilizer and water resources! Not so green!

The Fraser Valley Gleaners (Abbotsford, BC) is a group of volunteers for a non-profit, non-denominational Christian organization that accepts donations of food and resources from farmers and other donors, and creates nutritious dried soup mixes and dried apple snacks for export to the needy worldwide. Reflect for a moment on the bounty that we as Canadians (especially as Vancouverites) enjoy – you can spend only a couple of dollars for a bagful (reusable bag, right?!) of perfect, nutritious, fresh, ripe and varied produce from around the world, not to mention our own local producers.

Sometimes as much as half of a Canadian farmer’s harvest is considered ‘unmarketable’ – what better place to donate food that cannot be sold? Volunteers wash, prepare and dry the vegetables, which are then mixed and packaged together. On their website you can see some of the recipients of their Fraser Valley Soup Mix – it’s humbling, isn’t it? I suddenly became all too aware of my pickiness when I’m going through the leeks or cilantro bunches at Kin`s. Talk about feeling ungrateful.

Does The Fraser Valley Gleaners Society sound like something you’d like to support? Financial donations are accepted, but so are donations of time – book a ‘gleaning event’ with some friends or members of your office and help slice and dice the produce used to make nutritious meals for the poorest of the poor. A very green and very ethical venture to be sure!

For more information, please visit the Fraser Valley Gleaners website:

Other gleaning societies in Canada:
The Okanagan Gleaners (BC) -
The Ontario Christian Gleaners -

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