This time each year renewed interest in foraging pops up like a mushroom in the woods. In fact, the morel is probably responsible for all that chatter about finding your own food, as April generally marks the start of the season across much of the country. It’s also when a lot of hunters are in the woods hunting turkeys, so there’s a natural convergence of people and wild food happening anyway. According to this article in the Austin Chronicle, there’s also a renewed interest in urban foraging:
“Until approximately 12,000 years ago, when the first agricultural systems were developed, across every border and cultural divide, foraging was the predominant means of sustenance… The lost art is gaining momentum for a variety of modern reasons, including economic hardship, increased interest in sustainability and ecological well-being, and a desire to reconnect with nature and food.
“I think foraging fits in with any city, any town, any rural area, and any wilderness,” says Eric Knight, one of the Earth Native Wilderness School’s main teachers of edible and medicinal plant classes. “It’s part of who we are as humans.”
Admittedly, I’m not much of a forager. I’ve found a few morels in the woods, but I’m typically too busy chasing far-off gobbles to watch where I’m walking. (Not coincidentally, I’ve never found an arrowhead either so I must not spend any time looking at the ground.) I do pick chokecherries, wild plums, and crabapples in the late summer — mostly for my winemaking efforts. Other than that, most of my non-meat food comes from the market or the garden.
I’d like to change that as I’m sure there are plenty of great-tasting opportunities I’m stepping over every day. I do plan to pick some dandelions from my yard this spring — again for homemade wine, but I know everything from the yucca plants on the prairie to cattails offers sustenance. Maybe this will be the year I give it a try.
Are there any Wild Chef readers that forage for food? Any advice you can give?