Apple gleaning – rescuing the supermarket rejects from going to waste
“Gleaning Network UK coordinates volunteers, local farmers and food redistribution charities in order to salvage the thousands of tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables that are wasted on UK farms every year and direct this fresh, nutritious food to people in need.” Feedback Global
The Bristol hub is one of the newest offshoots of the UK Gleaning Network. I joined them on their second glean, at a farm in Gloucestershire where tonnes of apples were about to go to waste.
The crop had been sold to one of the large supermarket groups. The supermarket had already been through the orchard picking only the fruit which met their stringent quality standards. Apples that were too small, or too large, were left on the trees. Any irregularly shaped fruit was also abandonded. Even apples which were not quite red enough all over were rejected. Flavour and usefulness were not factors taken into consideration.
I was shocked by the quantities of rejected fruit, fruit that was clearly edible – unbruised, unblemished, of a decent size and an attractive colour.
Farmers’ markets are already my shopping method of choice for fresh produce. However the experience of this glean has left me determined to cease any support of the wasteful fruit and vegetable selections of supermarkets. It is only by voting with our wallets that supermakets will change their practises. Supermarkets have to be convinced that our fresh produce does not need to be uniformly perfect. Frut and vegetables are natural products, they don’t need to resemble something that has come out of a factory!
Volunteers gave their weekend time to collect just a fraction of the fruit going to waste. The gleaned apples went to FareShare, and The Matthew Tree Project, and their associated homeless hostels, food banks and charities. Some also went to Rubies in the Rubble and Lockleaze Apple Press, to raise funding for future gleans.