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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Harvest Festival and Food-banks

'We plough the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land;
But it is fed and watered by God's almighty hand:
He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.
Chorus All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.'

The months of September and October are wonderful harvest months with vegetables such as Aubergine (egg-plant), Cabbage and Celeriac ... each of which is a low carbers favourite ... to fruits like apples, plums and raspberries, with raspberries definitely on many a low carbers dish. I used to enjoy both my local church and school harvest festivals and of course these still continue each year, many of which include the hymn above, but reading a magazine article recently - sadly I thought the words rang true. No matter if you live in the UK, the USA, Canada, - and beyond - see if you agree.

" The rise of food-banks has given Britain's harvest festival tradition a new momentum - but has left little room for fresh produce as part of the celebrations.

In the past, September was a time when churches and school halls were filled with an abundance of seasonal fresh fruit, vegetables and bread, much of it destined for those in need.

That began to change as tinned and dried foods became more prominent, and a strict 'no-perishables' policy is now common among harvest festival organisers, whose goods are increasingly bound for foodbanks and charities.

'In my youth, you'd have harvest festival on Sunday, and on Monday you'd pack everything that came in and take it out round the community,' says Reverend Gillian Houghton, a minister at Guisley Methodist Church in Leeds. But that isn't the case these days - churches have less direct contact with people in need, so now we ask for non-perishables, which we send to a food-bank and a local homelessness project.'

Use of food banks have risen to record levels, with The Trussell Trust - which operates a network of more than 400, with collection points in Waitrose stores - providing over one million three day emergency supplies last year. There is usually a large spike in donations around harvest time, particularly from Churches, Schools and other organisations.

'During previous years we've been incredibly humbled by the level of support people across the UK have given food-banks at Harvest time,' says the trusts network director, Adrian Curtis. 'This is the busiest time of year for us, when the colder weather means people can face having to choose between turning on the heating or putting food on the table.'

In 2010, a YouGov survey found more than 80% of people in the UK no longer celebrate harvest festival and, of those who do, more than half mark the occasion by donating dried or tinned goods.

Despite a campaign to bring fresh produce back to the heart of the celebrations, those at the sharp end says it's just not what is needed anymore.

'We can't take any fresh food because we can't store it,' says Vivian Salter, a director at Braintree Area Foodbank in Essex. 'Our rules on storage are exactly the same as they are for a supermarket.'

'Sometimes churches will have an auction of fresh produce, and give us the proceeds of that, but mostly they encourage people to bring tins and packets.'

Despite talk of dwindling interest, churches, charities and farmers insist harvest traditions are alive and well in Britain.

'Festival services remain very popular, especially among families and children,' says a Church of England spokesman. 'As the Church seeks to tackle issues about the environment, climate change and sustainability, its themes of of thanksgiving for creation, care for the countryside have struck a fresh chord with a new generation.'

But the modern harvest festival hasn't entirely severed its links with the agricultural past.

'I've been involved with Ely Cathedral's festival for many years, where we have fresh fruit and veg - and even livestock - at the service,' says Brian Finnerty of the National Farmer's Union of East Anglia.

Other Churches in the region have started running farmers' markets during festival weekends, he says, while a new recipe book Great British Food From Great British Farms *, will be given out during this year's celebrations. 'It's really a good opportunity to reinforce the links between food and farming,' adds Finnerty. "

The above words taken from Waitrose Weekend Magazine    

*Please note the recipes in this on-line book may not be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

If you may be looking for a lovely Aubergine (egg-plant) recipe,
this one is lovely, and makes a very nice snack.

Mini Aubergine / Eggplant Pizzas
 find the recipe here

All the best Jan


Tom said...

Food banks are becoming all too common here.

Anonymous said...

Foodbanks do appear to be a sign of the times, perhaps it is good they are there for those who do need extra help. My children take tinned vegetables into their school assemblies.

I'm still enjoying your blog



eileeninmd said...

Hello, like Tom said above the food banks are very common here too. The new recipe book sounds great. I would like to try the eggplant pizzas. Happy Wednesday, enjoy your day!

Jo said...

I remember that hymn from the harvest festival when I was at school. When my kids were at primary school, we used to send all different types of food in for harvest festival, I know they still accept fresh as well as tinned food and packets too as they make up hampers with what they receive and give them out to pensioners in the area. I think food banks are such a good idea for those in need or on low incomes, it's a shame they're needed but needed they are. I add extra items to my shopping trolley each week and then when I've got a couple of boxes full, I donate it to the local food bank, in fact, I've got about four or five boxes full to take at the moment.

Snowbird said...

It's criminal how many people are now dependant on food banks,in some ways we're like a third world country.
Those little pizza's do look

Kasztanowy Domek said...

Great post! Kisses:))


Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

I frequent our local farmers market every week to support the farms in our area. My church has the only food bank for the community but many groups have drives to help supply it. It's all about helping and supporting others.

Jan said...

I love seeing community gardens planted in our area. Some are quite large, while others are more intimate.
Thankfully food banks are available here, too. They can really benefit families in need of a helping hand. I wish that no one had to go to bed hungry...especially the children~
Great Post, Jan.

Have a Lovely Day

Christine said...

the food banks here collect only non-perishables. Thanks for the recipe, will give it a try!

Gail said...

Our garden still produces and I am so grateful. I love freshly harvested foods. I hope it does not frost for a while yet. I'm not ready!

I think we will all enjoy the new porches.

I love noticing the tiny things. The pastures are full of very small webs in the morning wet with dew and sparkling in the sun.

Have a very blessed week.

Happyone said...

Yes, food banks here too mostly want canned and non perishable food.
Some people around where I live give produce from their garden to a local nursing home. There are senior apartments here in my town and people drop off fresh produce in the lobby and the seniors can take what they want.

Red Rose Alley said...

Harvest festivals are wonderful. We have a place in the mountains that we go to every year, and it has everything apples - caramel apples, apple pie, apple cider. It's the best harvest festival around. I do hope you get to visit one this Autumn, Jan.


Denise inVA said...

I think it's wonderful about the food banks and we do have a lot of them in our area. Thanks for another lovely recipe Jan, and such a nice post.

handmade by amalia said...

An interesting post, Jan. I like the look of that mini-pizza.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Even when I was young our local church received more tinned goods at Harvest Festival than it did fresh produce. I can see the sense in asking for items that are easier to store, but the comment about churches not being as much in contact with people in need struck me as indicating that some churches need to ask themselves some serious questions about their role in the community

Sara - My Woodland Garden said...

Thank you for this very interesting post.
When I was young, I couldn't imagine that food banks would be in future needed also in this country. I still don't quite understand what happened to our welfare state.
The mini pizzas look irresistible. :)
Have a happy upcoming weekend!

Conniecrafter said...

It was so neat to hear Ely Cathedral mentioned, we lived close by in Chatteris when we lived in England :) Our church has paired up with 4 other churches in the area and each church takes a weekend and we go to a town that has a high amount of people in need and cook them a home cook meal and have fresh food for them, we are blessed with a lady in our church that is a very good cook and she heads it all up and buys fresh ingredients just before. I am sure they appreciate fresh food instead of eating out of a can.

Lisa said...

It's at this time of year I start to pick up a few extras bits when I shop and then make a donation in the run up to Christmas. A few years ago we had a Christmas party and instead of people bringing nibbles for the party I provided the snacks and I asked them to bring a food donation which I then took to the food bank. My shopping trolley was packed full of the items everyone gave.
Lisa x