In biblical times, food security for the vulnerable was accomplished via gleaning, a practice of allowing people to harvest from the "four corners" of fields and to follow the harvesters to gather what was left. This was an agrarian economy. Food, shelter, clothing, an appropriate life partner and perhaps a craft was pretty much all you needed in life. Gleaning, a sharing of the edges and the overflow, was a simple way to spread the needed calories around.
How is food justice accomplished in our complex economy? I am happy to report that I am getting plenty of vitamin D along with many other nutrients from a newly established relationship with Atlas Farms in Deerfield. This is an outgrowth of our commitment to Sustainability or Shmitta in Hebrew - a rich term that implies much more than food security. Shmitta is really a vision for rich, supportive social cohesion.
So each Sunday morning, we gleaners meet out at the fields. Jews and non-Jews, neighbors and congregants. We harvest what is abundant or left over from Atlas Farm's commercial activities. Food is shared between gleaners and several food justice agencies, including Stone Soup and the Center for Self-Reliance in Greenfield. On several occassions we have had a superabundance of various crops and have already held 3 canning days at TI, usually on Thursday evenings or Sunday afternoons. These preserved foods will appear at community meals at TI over the year and some will be shared with charitable outlets as well.
I am so happy that I live in a region and a community where this kind of direct social activism can be restored and lived out. Please contact me if you want to be added to the gleaners list.
I look forward to being with many of you in the high holiday season.