Monday, June 21, 2010


Speaking of eating free, I'm happy to report that we're now participating in the Food Reclamation Project, a program organized through Hands On Nashville. Vendors at the Nashville Farmer's Market support the project by donating their "less-than-prime" produce (read: flawed, mostly superficially, thrown away due to our fickle industrial food aesthetic) to a group of volunteers who further sort it into human-grade quality and not. The former is then delivered to local feeding agencies and homeless shelters, while the lesser quality foodstuffs are reincorporated into the local agro-ecology.
Until recently, most of this food was directed to local community gardens for composting, which is one great way to remove organic material from the waste stream and put it back into the food cycle. Now, however, we are coordinating with the project to pick up this busted, bruised, and slightly moldy (but sometimes astonishingly perfect!) food two days a week for the Ecotone sounder. Last week, I could barely fit it all in my truck!
As you may know, pigs are remarkably similar to human in digestive anatomy. With single chamber stomachs they are omnivores, and are well-known for eating most anything and everything you put in front of them. This, of course, doesn't mean that they should or would eat those things, if given a wide variety from which to choose; but it is why they are traditionally considered unclean to eat. But it's also exactly why pigs were domesticated: because of their remarkable ability to turn all or most agricultural by-products into edible animal protein. Whether it was compost from the garden, whey from the dairy animals, or scraps from the kitchen, pigs are a crucial part of the feeding ecology for many smallholders and householders - that is, those subsistence agriculturists comprising three-quarters of the world's population.
In this sense, I've been thinking about how this project in general, and the pigs roles in particular, are good examples of gleaning, an ancient set of practices associated with the common rights to gather the remainder left in a field after harvest. Needless to say, all the pigs at Ecotone are happy to oblige in this role, and sometime in the future - after we've helped turn that so-called waste into protein - we'll return it to the project in the form of food.

1 comment:

  1. I applaud your efforts to circumvent rigid regulatory schemes and, as always, to improve our planet and our lives.