Gleaning Is The Way You Can Help Redistribute Surplus Food

Tackle the problem of food waste with your own hands (literally). ‘Gleaning’ is a practice from the middle ages that environmental organisation, Feedback, are bringing back. Join one of their campaigns, help rescue surplus food from farms and redirect it to those in need.

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It’s so easy to feel disconnected from the food on our platesMost of us are totally dependant on supermarkets for our fruit and veg and shop without a thought for the fields our food comes from. 

The sad reality is that millions of tonnes of perfectly good food from farms gets needlessly wasted each year. So what can we do about it? We’re loving Feedback’s renewed focus on gleaning.

Image Photography | Chris King

Gleaning means collecting up the food that would have been sent to landfill, from your local farm, and redistributing it to people in need. 

You can join one of Feedback’s groups of volunteer gleaners or one of their online campaigns, and help combat food waste in the supermarket supply chain. 

Being out amongst the crops that we usually only see on our supermarket shelves is a way to reconnect with where our produce comes from, appreciate it more and help get high quality food to projects and charities who feed those who cannot afford to buy it themselves. It’s an eye-opening experience.

Image Photography | Chris King

How bad is the issue of food waste in the UK?

According to a study by WRAP, around 3.6 million tonnes of farm-level crops were wasted this year. Staple crops like carrots, parsnips and peas were amongst some of the most heavily wasted, with approximately 15 to 17% of them getting thrown away before they even left the farm.

Not only is this financially devastating for farmers, but it takes a huge toll on the planet as well. 

Dan Wooley, Head of Pilot Programmes at Feedback, said: “Halving food waste has been shown to be the third most effective way to tackle climate change.”

Feedback have undertaken research into why this issue is so prolific. The key reasons they identified were inaccurate forecasting by supermarkets, low farm-gate prices and rejection of fresh produce. A major issue is that supermarkets tend to turn away beautiful fruit and veg that is the ‘wrong’ size or shape. 

But you can help tackle these issues at the root, by putting pressure on supermarkets to change their ways and by redistributing waste produce.

Love these images? Check out Chris King’s photojournalism project Food Is…

““Halving food waste has been shown to be the third most effective way to tackle climate change””

How can you get involved with Feedback?

Feedback are an environmental group who are on a mission to end the unseen food waste scandal that is going on in the UK. 

Take a look at their Gleaning handbook. It’s a great resource designed to help communities rescue food surplus from farms. You can find further information about food waste and how and why you should get involved with your local group of gleaners. 

Chris Hibbert is a volunteer who has started up local gleaning activities with Feedback’s help. He sums up the solution to this problem succinctly, by saying: “We often hear about needing to increase our food production to meet a growing population. I don’t agree! We need to use more of what we grow.”

““We often hear about needing to increase our food production to meet a growing population. I don’t agree! We need to use more of what we grow””

Can’t get out into the fields?

Check out Feedback’s online campaigns. You can join in with them by writing letters and signing petitions to get supermarkets to change their demands and policies surrounding food orders and how they work with farms.

Need more ideas about how to fight food waste?

7 easy ways to reduce your food waste

Food for thought: what are these producers turning food waste into?

Why not make Christmas dinner more sustainable too?

Have A Vegan Christmas Dinner: Recipes, Ideas And Simple Swaps