Urban Sidewalk Gleaning - Pears. It Ain't Always Pretty, But It Sure Can be Beautiful

In my last post about gleaning fruit from the sidewalk and gutter of an urban setting, I did my best to clean up the fruit and make it look pretty, in order to help sell the concept. Go ahead and have a look at my gleaned plums and the resulting tart. I think that plum pictures is one of my best (toot toot, that would be my own horn). But I wonder if I've done a disservice to foraging and gleaning by presenting too pretty a picture.

You see, when you glean food out of the gutter, it ain't pretty. The fruit has fallen off the tree ripe, which means that is squishes and splatters on impact. People walk by and step on it, bugs and squirrels take their share. Go ahead, look, this is the reality. Does it disgust you? I eat food that has previously been nibbled by bugs and birds and critters.

It doesn't disgust me. I take it home, and with a simple cut and a simple scrub under running water, I've got good food. Really good food. How do I know? I've seen it with my own eyes. I've seen the trees that the fruit grows upon, I've seen how the orbs fall to the ground. I know. I know that this food may have been chewed and mashed (and I can make easy work of it with a knife), but it is still excellent food. I feel safe in that knowledge.

But you see, I don't feel safe when I buy pears at the store. It's an unknown, a relative crapshoot. How many human hands have touched it? How many of them didn't wash after they sneezed or peed? Yes, that's gross, apologies. But is that any more gross than cutting away a bug-eaten spot? And with conventional produce, there are further unknowns, even scarier than human hands - pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers. Grocery store produce is the real horror show, it's plasticine facade belying the reality - nature manipulated and molded and folded beyond repair. The picture is pretty, but what lies beneath the glossy cover?

When I have the choice, I'll take my known risks. I know that the fruit I picked out of the gutter may have been stepped upon, may have been chewed by squirrels. I know how to deal with these known risks.

Now, I won't claim for a second to have never bought conventional produce. But when I do so, I understand that I'm making a deal with the devil. And I've always got amazing super powers in my pocket - knowledge and choice. But more and more, I'm not seeing any reason to purchase from the grocery store, I'm able to forage and glean all that I need, and can preserve it if need be.

So, as long as the weather in the Rockies allows it, I'll choose to pick my food out of the gutters. And I'll continue to make gourmet delights from my gleaned fruit, too. The pictures show my homemade pear brandy and a pear camembert tart. Think about that squished fruit on the city sidewalk, and then take a look at the brandy and tart. The possibilities are beautiful, aren't they?

I'm sharing this one with Fight Back Friday, Real Food Wednesday, Hearth and Soul Hop, Fat Tuesday, and Pennywise Platter Thursday, let's reclaim some of our power when it comes to food!

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