Thursday, September 22, 2011

Charitable onions

And when you reap the harvest of your land, you should not gather the extremes of the corners of your fields; neither should you gather the gleanings of your harvest:  you shall leave those for the poor and the strangers.  I am the Lord your God.
It's hard to feel virtuous about giving onions to other people.  It's even harder to feel virtuous about that when I really, really don't want the onions.  Our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is winding into its fall vegetables, and my next-door neighbor and I feel like we both have onions coming out of our ears.  Ugh.

But it's even less virtuous to let good stuff go to waste.  The city where I live has a lot of refugees who have fled from Nepal, Iran, and other war-torn countries.  Because of my students who care deeply about issues of social justice, I've learned a lot about how hard it is for these people to show up in a new country.  They've fled terror and famine; they arrive in America with very little money, minimal english, and no possessions.  All they have is permission from our government to resettle here, plus 6 months of help from local organizations.  Every time I re-read Exodus or Leviticus (which frankly, isn't very often) I remember that these are exactly the people I'm supposed to be thinking of.

One of the people who works at my college has helped a group of resettled women start a catering business.  I'm just in awe of this idea.  My own tiny contribution to this is passing along extra onions from the CSA to these women, sort of like letting them gather from the corners of my fields.  If you want to see how my onions taste, you could order something from Upohar.

Giving onions to resettled refugees isn't exactly the noblest thing I've done with my life.  But it's not the worst thing I've done, either.

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