Friday, July 17, 2009

Freegans Vs. Gleaners

There's a new term out there coined "Freegan, Freeganism, or Freegans" - what ever one wants to coin it, it looks like a self-righteous, polished spin on a Gleaner to me. If you are not familiar with the term Gleaner, it has been around forever. I recommend watching the movie, "The Gleaners and I" by Agnes Varda. It is a documentary that is fantasticly entertaining.

Jean-Fran├žois Millet's famous painting "Les Glaneuses ( The Gleaners)", painted in 1857 also depicts Gleaners scavenging the fields. picture courtesy of

Gleaners would go out in the fields and pick bits and pieces of crops that were left over after the Lords harvested. This is how they fed their families. It is amazing how much is left out in the fields after the crops were harvested. Modern day Gleaners are found throughout the world. City Gleaners glean from dumpsters, farmers market (including French Markets in France), and backs of restaurants. Country Gleaners still comb the fields for what crops are grown in their area.

Freegans, as described on their own website, and wikipedia
salvage the food and other things for political reasons rather than out of necessity.Whether is it called dumpster diving, skipping, gleaning, wild foraging, or freeganing, it is all the same to me.

Supermarket Dumpster
containing unopened beverage, chips, sugar and more.

Freegans also repair bicycles and share with others who have no transportation. Freegans share housing and rides across country. All things worth looking at for those of us who are looking at how tent cities operate :-)

Humm, Gleaner or Freegan? Maybe It is better to title oneself a Freegan instead of a Gleaner. Then it would appear that one was doing it out of a choice rather than necessity. I could make T-shirts exclaiming my position ( look for them soon on my link ).
For now I am going to have to get my handy booklet out- that we made in our last post- and start charting the dumpsters to see who is throwing out what and when. The thought of picking food out of the dumpster, I admit, sounds quite unappetizing. But, My interest is peaked after what I have seen and read. So, I may venture out to see what I can find.

COMING SOON- How to pick your neighbor's vegetables with their permission.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shop Local Tote Bag

Click on Tote Bag for more info.

"Become a Localvore, Shop your neighbor's Garden"
It has a photo of me harvesting my neighbor's carrots late one night.

You can use this handy Bag to do all of your shopping!

How to Pick Your Neighbors Vegetables without them Knowing

OK, this may sound a bit unethical but desperate times call for desperate measures. And, besides you could be doing them a favor- you know that they are not really eating all of those vegetables, Right? They are probably overwhelmed with work, family, and more. Too busy to get out there and harvest the crops. And, by the time they do, the sun is setting and the hungry mosquito's are out....then they only pick maybe two tomatoes and one zucchini. And, the ones that do manage to get out there and pick 'em, can't possibly cook all of them. They end up playing a grown up ding dong know, leaving a pile of zucchini's on the front porch of some poor unsuspecting business man after your kids have begged you for NO MORE ZUCCHINI BREAD!

This year is a particularly good year for vegetable picking. With all the hype of grow your own food and all of the gardens popping up all over the place. If you are one of the lucky ones, you live in a neighborhood with front yard gardens!Edible Gardens have nearly doubled in popularity. And, they are getting healthier too! People are growing organic and getting educated on actually how to grow. Heirloom varieties are particularly in vogue!

So, let's get started !
Keep in mind folks, that this is all in good fun. I don't really advise you to go out there and raid the outdoor pantries. RIGHT?

1) I recommend keeping a journal of your neighbors hours, IE; bedtime, work, little league games, etc. Do they have dogs? Do they have Oberwies or PeaPod delivered ( very popular in my neighborhood)? If so, they are use to being interupted in the middle of the night, a good time to to vegetable picking. I have assembled a journal using all of the junk mail coupons that regularly come in the mail. The backs of them are blank. Staple them together and you have a handy little booklet! I also recommend carrying will you small clippers/ scissors, small flash light for yards that lack lighting, and a sack of some sort.

2) Catalog of the the gardens in your area- you are only limited by how far you are willing to walk or ride your bike. Keep track of the varieties that are grown in each one so that you can plan your menus. Use the booklet that you made in step one.I am very fortunate -there is one garden in my neighborhood that grows early crops, summer crops, and fall crops. So, I get a well rounded variety of vegetables.

3) Don't be greedy! Only pick what you need! This way you won't waste precious veggies, but you will always have fresh new produce that is healthier for you. And, most importantly- your neighbors won't notice that you were there.

4) As touched on in step #3, ONLY PICK WHAT YOU NEED! Also, a good tip is to leave a small rabbit sized bite in a tomato or cucumber so that it looks as if rabbits or mice raided the garden.

This will get you started in the art of vegetable picking. In no time at all you too can be a Localvore! One more thing, be a good neighbor and if you see weeds, do a little weeding to help keep the vegetables growing and thriving!

Tent City Here We Come!

I live in a cute middle to upper class tourist town west of Chicago, IL. We are considered a middle class family. But the last few years have been hard on us....."Tent City, here We come!" Is a phrase that I have yelled out quite a few times lately. It may sound humorous but it is a reality that many might have to face sooner than later. Many are not sure where their next paycheck will come from and not sure how this months bills will be paid. We are all flying by the seat of our pants- so to say.

So, here we go...