How hungry do you have to be?

8 Feb

gleaners

“The Gleaners,” by Jean-Francois Millet

I heard a little – not much – about a gleaner movement where volunteers seek permission from farmers to glean fruit and vegetables from fields, then use what they harvest to feed the hungry.

When I learned about the movement, my grandfather came to mind.

He was an immigrant, and his own gleaner. If he passed a fruit tree where apples were left on the ground, he would walk up to the door of the house and ask if he could have them. The gleaned food was in addition to what he grew in his own garden.

His son, my father, with disgust for modern life, once told me his father “fed his family on less than you spend today for paper towels.”

My grandfather was a proud, ingenious man who felt no shame in gleaning what would otherwise be wasted. If I were hungry – and I doubt he ever was – I’m not sure which I would find less tasteful: gleaning for myself or having others glean for me.

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