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Posts Tagged ‘Food Project’

Good news for scavengers who collect fruit they see going to waste in cities.

A new study reveals that, unlike urban root vegetables or leafy vegetables that grow close to the ground, fruit is not in danger of contamination by lead and, mysteriously, contains more nutrients than most grocery-store fruit.

Bella English writes at the Boston Globe that Amy Jarvis, of Boston’s League of Urban Canners [LUrC], was concerned about fellow forager Matthew Schreiner, who had tested positive for high levels of lead. She “went online and found [Wellesley College geoscience professor Dan] Brabander, who since 2003 has been working with the nonprofit Food Project, monitoring lead in urban soil.

“In the past year, LUrC members have given Brabander and his students 197 foraged food samples to analyze, including berries, cherries, apples, plum, peaches, and pears. Both groups believe it is the only such ‘citizen-scientist’ collaboration in the country.

“ ‘It’s an example of a successful approach to doing applied science that matters,’ says Brabander. So far, he and his students, including Wellesley juniors Ciaran Gallagher and Hannah Oettgen, have analyzed 40 samples for trace elements, both toxins and nutritents.

“Their results startled many, including themselves. Urban fruit not only doesn’t absorb high levels of lead, it has more than twice the amount of calcium concentrations as commercially grown fruit. The results were the same for washed and peeled fruit as they were for unwashed and unpeeled samples.

“The primary source of lead in an urban environment is the soil, and leafy vegetables and root vegetables, which grow close to the ground, take up lead in more significant amounts than fruit. ‘If most of the fruit is high up [on trees], that minimizes the likelihood that re-suspended soil, or soil with lead in it, will reach up there,’ Brabander says.” More here.

Photo: Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Wellesley College student Ciaran Gallagher checks the lead content in an apple tree in Cambridge.

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A couple years ago I asked someone who organizes gleaners in Vermont to write an article for the place that I work. Gleaning was new to me then, but now I read about it often.

The idea is that volunteers are invited into farms after a harvest to pick the perfectly good remnants that would otherwise be plowed under. The excess produce is then handed over to food banks at peak of freshness.

Kathy Shiels Tully wrote for the Globe today about one gleaning effort.

“Founded in 2004 by Arlington resident Oakes Plimpton, Boston Area Gleaners organizes volunteers, sometimes on only one to two days’ notice.

“Timeliness is important, said Emma Keough, market and food access manager at Brookwood Community Farm.

“ ‘It’s really critical people show up … We’re growing really intensively, so there’s only a small window to pick excess crops in order to give us time to turn over the land and plant a new crop.’ …

“Todd Kaplan of Somerville signed on four years ago after hearing about Boston Area Gleaners ‘through the grapevine.’

“Averaging a dozen gleaning sessions a year, Kaplan, a legal aid attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services, has gleaned mostly on farms west of Boston — Dick’s Market Garden in Lunenburg, where he’s picked kale, tomatoes, and green peppers; Kimball Fruit Farm in Pepperell, which has offered the group first pick of apples; and the Food Project Farm in Lincoln.

“The gleaning nonprofit ‘moves an inordinate amount of food that would otherwise go to waste into the hands of people who really need it,’ Kaplan said.

“Lynn Langton, a North Andover resident, says her immediate reaction to learning about gleaning in a newspaper article three years ago was ‘I want to do that!’ … It’s such a high-quality, fresh product. It’s unbelievable.’ ”

More here.

Photo: John Blanding/Globe Staff
The Boston Area Gleaners program organizes volunteers. to pick excess crops from farms and donate them to food banks for distribution. Matt Crawford is the group’s coordinator.

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