Homes never smell like vinegar baths anymore. When I was a wee one there was an informal holiday around my house that I guess could have been remembered as “Canning Day.” Much of this holiday’s kitchen rituals remained a mystery to me, but the days leading up to the “great pot” were like Easter and a safari combined. It was my job to roam the hills or the draws harvesting anything from wild plums to mustang grapes. Then, through a vinegar haze, these wild gems somehow became jam.
These efforts at gathering in the wild crops from the creek and bramble are only one branch of the redneck supported agricultural tree (which has now become endangered). The second, and more important, is gleaning. Some today might call this stealing, but come on.
All the best agrarian societies made allowances for gleaning. But in today’s modern agroindustrial world there is no place left for the humble redneck to stop along the side of the road and pick up some peaches that have come to rest recently on the ground or to pluck a few ears of corn from the stunted stalks at the end of the row.
Now that so many of our rednecks can no longer survive in their native necks’ of the woods, what are we to do with the urban redneck scavenging for wild or second rate fruits and vegetables to round out his dietary needs? How many parks plant actual fruiting trees? What mall tree strip houses melons or squash?
With wild lands pushed further from our populous and farms run like machines, gleaning and gathering have become ghosts from America’s past, but they should not be dead to us. Us urban ilk, currently gorging on CSA’s (community supported agriculture) and urban gardens, could learn a thing or two about sustainability from our rednecks brethren and their RSA’s that have helped strengthen the weak for generations.