Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why Forage Wild Edibles: Free Food, Organic Nutrition, Survival Prep, and Fun

Each person, family, or group comes to wild food foraging for different reasons. Some do it for education, some for survival, some for a sense of community, some for food, and some for fun. I suppose we, The 3 Foragers, do it for all of those reasons listed, and perhaps a few more. We forage wild edibles together as a family, and sometimes with other like-minded friends. We forage mushrooms communally with a mushroom society for the camaraderie and education. We forage with experts to learn more, and perhaps share something we have learned through our own trials and experiments. We understand the benefits to identifying edible and poisonous plants in a survival situation, whether in an apocalyptic sense, or a simple lost-in-the-woods scenario. And we love to cook and eat what we find, photograph the food, and share our experiences. It is through our background stories that we have arrived at this place and time as a foraging family.

Wineberry Bavarian
As a child, I grew up in semi-rural southeastern Connecticut, I am born-and-bred New England, and I love this geographical area of the United States. I read Ranger Rick magazines as a child, which showed me the natural world around me, and introduced ideas like conservation, responsibility, and beauty. I had an uncle who hunted for food and foraged for mushrooms on family property, the same property I hiked often. Even through the consumerist 80's and selfish 90's, it never took much to convince me to take a walk in the woods. For many years, I worked in several professional kitchens doing pastry, so I feel I have a decent understanding of taste, food presentation, and recipe construction. For the last seven years I have been a stay-at-home mom, keeper of the household, and participant in our foraging and cooking endeavors.

Originally from Hungary, Robert's interest in the local edible plants of Connecticut is what triggered our wild food education. As a boy, he fished and foraged in the countryside near his childhood home, and was exposed to the wildcrafting of a more domestic culture. His family fermented wild and cultivated fruits into peasant wines, and planted an extensive garden full of fruit trees and fresh vegetables. He has also worked in a professional kitchen. His main hobby before foraging for wild food was photography, and the skills he learned while photographing beautiful scenes and objects has carried over to the work he does now with the plants and food pictures. His interests include bushcraft, wildcraft, and survival preparedness. Robert also creates some of the recipes we post, and he certainly likes to eat the wild foods we learn about. He follows a vegetarian diet, along with our daughter, and sourcing organic, nutritious, sustainable and delicious vegetables and wild foods are important to him.

Gillian foraging cattail flower stalks
Gillian's puffball
While she is only 7 years old, Gillian is an active, enthusiastic, and willing member of our team. It really is amazing to see how children learn and understand the world around them, and she remembers almost all of the wild foods we have found. Of course, she prefers the sweet handfuls of ripe berries over bitter greens, but she also appreciates the funky garlic flavors and sweet sap directly from a tree, along with the savory mushrooms we hunt. Her proximity to the ground and boundless energy make her a great foraging companion. When we travel, she always comes with us to experience the wild world around us, and her appreciation for food made with wild edibles is commendable.

Honey Mushroom Paprikas
As we continue our education and wild food journey, I hope we can share our enthusiasm through food, recipes, photographs, and personal stories. Not all aspects of bushcraft or wild food foraging are for all people. From watching silly survival shows on TV and lighting campfires with friction, to taking walks with wild food educators, to sharing educational displays at the local library and writing a blogger's column in the local newspaper, we enjoy dabbling in most aspects of the genre. Our daily menu usually includes something either freshly foraged, or something foraged that we previously froze or dried or preserved some other way. What would you rather eat: a bowl full of boiled dock for purity's sake, or a tasty lasagne made with a layer of nettles and ricotta? While not every recipe we post is exclusively made from wild food, we add wild food to most meals we create. Sure, you can eat black locust blossoms straight from the tree, unadorned, simple and wonderful, but we'll also show you how to make doughnuts, flavored syrups, wine, and a dessert custard with them!


Unknown said...

Exceptional presentation. Very good descriptions and thoroughly good coverage of subject edibles using photos for best effect.

barefoot mama said...

This blog is fantastic! Thank you so much for all the great info that you are sharing here. I recently wrote a post about how desperately I wanted to and felt the need to learn more about wild edibles, one of my friends left me the link to this blog..yay for me!!! :) Thanks again, Barefoot Mama

The 3 Foragers said...

Thanks, Barefoot Mama! I am assuming you have children, and you might be amazed how they will love eating "weeds" too.