Friday, May 25, 2007

Fallen Fruit - Saving Good Food

I just finished The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan (Penguin Press 2006). This book is a must-read for anyone interested in food, sustainability, the environment, and so on. I learned a lot about how food is wasted, and how to be a less wasteful eater. Anyway, towards the end of the book, he mentioned the legal principle of 'usufruct' in the context foraging food either from public places or where fruit was going to waste. I like this idea - that if others are allowing something perishable to go to waste, then you may have the right to take it and use it yourself - very interesting. In that context, he gave a footnote to this site: The website is devoted to the idea of foraging fruit in the city (of LA, but they would like to expand their mission across the U.S.). I am very taken with the politics of this idea (I like any idea that keeps private property in its proper place), and the fallen fruit website is very much worth looking at, including the manifesto and maps. There are some apple trees on the edge of a public recreation center a five minutes walk from my house, which I noticed last Fall, and which did have edible apples growing on them. And then, walking my dog, I've discovered an old empty house lot that I think has apple trees. This Fall I am definitely going to go back, pick a bunch, and put up apple sauce. So now what I need to find in the trash is a good old fashioned apple picker! What fruit do you have growing near you that you can collect?


Robinson said...

I like the fallen fruit idea - I may blog about your blog. I have heard that orchard owners who allow 'u-pick' tell customers that they shouldn't pick up the fallen fruit because of the dangers of salmonella, but that seems silly to me. Maybe its a legal disclaimer kind of thing? I'll have to research.

Robinson said...

One thing I would disagree with is that a person has the right to trespass on my property because they feel something on my property is going to waste. I have out of shape apple trees at the back of my property that I do not harvest but the windfall apples keep the deer happy and away from my gardens for the most part. So, who gets to decide whether the apples are wasted or not?

Your post gives a lot of food for thought.

Carol said...

Hi Celeste

It was lovely to meet you this weekend.

When we were talking about your blog, I said I'd try to dig out references to the French film maker Agn├Ęs Varda. She made a film released in English as The Gleaners and I about gleaners who reap left-over crops from fields - relevant to this post of yours about taking fallen fruit. Incidentally, do you have the word "scrumping" in US English?

But the "Gleaners and I" is also about urban gleaners and about the idea of film-making as a kind of gleaning.

Here's an article I found about it that I thought was interesting:

Celeste said...

Carol - It was great to meet you too, I had a lovely weekend, and am looking forward to seeing all my new friends at the wedding. And thanks for the references. I will try to get hold of the film through Netflix once I am home.

Laura - I agree that reaching consensus on what counts as waste isn't easy. But that doesn't mean that it is completely subjective either. And I don't think that private property alone can always justify waste. If someone were picking the apples that you aren't eating yourself in order to feed their hungry children, would you want to be able to prevent them? The thing about private property is that it makes it seem as though a lot of resources are themselves private and individual, rather than collective.