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The Urban Foraging Phenomenon

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 5:51 AM

Urban Fruit ForagingSummary: Some urban foragers believe the ability to forage provides individuals a way to maintain their self esteem. Foraging allows them to find food in quirky ways.

Urban foraging is the name sociologists apply to the phenomenon of citizens picking through garbage for food and other items that can safely be used. It is also called gleaning, although this is etymologically unsound; the original meaning of gleaning referred to select members of society being permitted to forage through portions of orchards that were set aside specifically for that purpose. Urban foraging is the reclaiming of any item declared unfit for use by other members of society. Some of the types of items typically salvaged by urban foragers are appliances, books, computers, clothing, food, furniture, lumber, office supplies, tools, children’s toys, and even umbrellas.

What Type of People Become Urban Foragers?

Foragers can work alone or with others. Foragers sometimes use items they have found to barter for other goods. In some cities, foragers have gatherings called freemeets where sharing and bartering can more easily take place. There are nonprofit organizations that also forage. The goods that they find are used to help support kitchens for temporarily unemployed families who have become victims of a bad economy.
A growing number of people are involved in urban foraging. Some foragers theorize that it is an environmentally conscious way to obtain food. These people may also shun some food items from grocery shelves because they are not confident that the food was grown organically or sustainably. 

Trends in Urban Foraging

Foraging FinlandThe latest trends in urban foraging include support from business groups to sponsor citizens in the development of urban spaces for foraging. The focus is on food. Anything gathered is taken to their local neighborhoods and given to those not able to buy food for their families. These citizens often run tours to explain about urban foraging to interested parties.
There is also a trend in larger cities to develop urban forests for foraging. Unused inner-city areas are utilized for orchards of fruit trees grown by the individualcitizens and corporate sponsors. Some of the harvest from these urban forests is given to food banks. A specific percentage, up to ten percent, is set aside for the use of individual urban foragers. In this way, the original intent of the verb "to glean" is met.

Urban Foraging for Feeding of Pets

A considerable number of people who are homeless or unemployed have pets they need to care for. When foraging for food that is questionably useful for humans, some food products are suitable for dogs and cats, who can generally tolerate things humans can't stomach. When urban foraging became more than just dumpster diving, some groups of vegetarians felt conflicted about feeding meat to their cats. Dogs do well on a meatless diet, but cats are not capable of staying healthy without meat. 

This internal conflict was solved when these people heard of the term Freegan, which also applies to people to participate in a vegan kind of urban foraging. To be a freegan means to help protect the environment by saving otherwise suitable food from being discarded due to arbitrary expiry dates. Thus feeding meat, found during urban foraging, to their pets was not in opposition to their various reasons for choosing to eat a totally vegetarian diet. A clearer explanation is that food which is no longer in the cycle of production and consumption because it has been discarded releases anyone who uses such food from the primary responsibility of damage done to the environment.

Is Urban Foraging Legal?

Regulation on urban foraging vary from city to city. The trend in these challenging economic times is to ignore activities considered foraging in order to allow people who are down on their luck to get the food they need. Some urban foragers believe the ability to forage provides individuals a way to maintain their self esteem. Foraging allows them to provide legally for their families, albeit in a slightly unorthodox way.

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