Friday, November 27, 2009
Scavenge and Glean
Scavengers aren't generally thought of very well, but there are ways of appreciating them. After all, when a murder of crows descends, they do clean up our roadkill, our rot, our discards. They loudly scold us for our errors, and move on to clean up for someone else. (Yes, a flock of crows is really called a "murder.")
Here's a non-crow version: Food Bank Farm went to farmers' fields after they were done harvesting. They dug and pulled and collected missed roots, tiny broccoli heads that wouldn't sell at market, imperfect greens, missed apples, and delivered the fresh food to food pantries. (Julia, the vegetable farmer at Fishkill Farms, calls her late season pool-ball sized cabbages "kittens.")
Worlds apart, in the U.S. there are philosophically driven dumpster divers, and in China, rag pickers who dissassemble our discarded electronics to save the reusable pieces. They are driven by poverty.
Another version is groups like Fallen Fruit, like Iskash*taa. Like a friend of a friend Inna Pickle Inna Jam who rides her bike around, offering jars of preserves and asking fruit tree owners if she can pick their unwanted fruit. Her preserves are named after where the food was discovered: Norvell Street Quince and Essex Street Plum.
This dark, moody day after Thanksgiving, the flocks of crows are here, talking. I'm not taking it as a death toll, rather, as a sign of efficiency, of early winter cleanup, as something that is right and makes sense.
Full disclosure: I was predisposed to be pro-scavenge since I had and loved a vulture stuffed animal as a kid.