Gleaning in the UK

My exploration of the issue of food waste has largely focused on the great work by being done individuals and organisations to reduce the amount of edible food needlessly going to waste – focusing on the solutions to the root causes of so much of the food we produce needlessly being wasted.

Having documented quite a few great initiatives in London, I was itching to see what was happening at a farm level. I was invited by Martin at The Gleaning Network to come along to one of their gleaning sessions at a farm near Canterbury, Kent. On that occasion pears and apples were being gleaned, but the farmer informed us that half his crop of cherries was being left to rot, along with an entire crop of plums – all due to them not meeting his client’s cosmetic standards – one of the supermarket chains in the UK.

The level of food waste at a farm level is astonishing – completely illogical, and morally indefensible – especially when so many people are suffering from food insecurity in the UK, and food poverty and starvation around the globe. While it’s invisible to those of us living in urban environments, farm-level food waste offers irrefutable proof that we are propping up a deeply flawed, broken food system.

This video is a multimedia piece – bringing together some of the images from the activities and portraits of the gleaners across multiple visits to different farms across the UK, along with introductions to some of the people co-ordinating the campaign.

Once you’re done watching the video, you can read some of my journal posts, documenting my time on the farms with The Gleaning Network. I would of course highly recommend volunteering for The Gleaning Network – they are doing amazing work, and vital work. They have hubs across the UK, and there are similar organisations in the US, across Europe, and elsewhere in the Global North and South.

Just a side note – I’m in the process of building a dedicated website for the portraits of the gleaners and other Food Waste Warriors, so be sure to visit the site and sign up to the mailing list to be informed of the launch, and when new warriors are added to the site.