In times of crisis, Parisians take to scavenging

Wed Feb 4, 2009 12:58pm EST
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By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - It's closing time at a market in Belleville, a working-class neighborhood in Paris, and a young woman in a black parka and white cap is rummaging through the abandoned crates.

After a thorough inspection, she slips a cauliflower and some slightly squashed oranges into her shopping bag.

"That's going to be my dinner," says the woman, who will only give her name as Yng.

Nearby, an old man with a black beret selects two mangoes from the bottom of a battered cardboard box. He earlier bought a bag of apples, then filled his basket with discarded fruit and vegetables.

"Glanage," or gleaning, is a French tradition that reaches back to the Middle Ages, when people would go over the fields after the harvest and gather any crops that remained.

But today, the practice is becoming more widespread in cities, in what charity workers and social activists describe as a sign of growing economic despair.


At the market in Belleville, three women curse each other in French and Arabic as they fight over a bag of leeks.   Continued...

<p>A woman picks up discarded fruits and vegetables after a market in Paris February 4, 2009. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen</p>