In an expanding “foodie” culture, people go to great lengths to get the best ingredients, seek out the most aesthetic desserts, and buy natural and organic. Less noted, though, is the movement of “foragers”: people who “eat wild” on a regular basis, supplemented by naturally growing, edible plants for which they search in their local communities, whether urban or rural….
“People new to foraging have to be very careful. There are many plants and fungi that are poisonous or have parts that are poisonous,” she says. “Wild parsley looks a lot like poison hemlock, for example. The growing environment is also a factor, because plants will sequester toxins that are introduced to the soil or fall on their leaves, like pesticides.”
Snetselaar offers this advice to novice foragers:
1. Educate yourself. Photo guides and iPhone apps do not sufficiently show plants and their parts for those unfamiliar with vegetation to distinguish the subtle differences that prove a plant edible or poisonous. Instead, learn the terminology associated with classification and rely on a more academic guidebook that has diagrams and shows a plant’s relative size.
2. Learn from an expert. Taking a seasoned forager as a guide is a safer and more informative way to learn what to pick.
3. Forage in untainted environments. Though people have been known to forage in urban settings, be wary of vacant lots and roadsides, where unknown pollutants can lie both underneath the soil and on vegetation itself. Do not forage where fertilizers and weed killers have been used and always wash plants before eating.
4. Check ordinances in parks and protected lands. Many state and national parks do not allow visitors to disturb protected environments by removing plant life and endangering regrowth.
- Balmy English winter a boon to forest foragers (csmonitor.com)
- Foragers Mia Andler, Kevin Feinstein, now authors (sfgate.com)
- Foraging for wild foods, at the Native Plant Society Thursday (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Introduction into Foraging (theforagingsquirrel.wordpress.com)
- Reap the benefits of wild edible plants – aka. FREE FOOD!! (permacultureprocess.wordpress.com)
- Coming up: wild food foraging in the city (seattletimes.nwsource.com)