Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wild Food Foraging Evolution

Wildman Steve Brill
As our level of experience with wild foods continues to evolve and grow, so do our opportunities to share. Eight years ago we were wide-eyed, overwhelmed, and exhausted, trying to take in so much information about so many plants at once. We would take tours with Wildman Steve Brill or Russ Cohen and come away with our heads filled with information, cameras filled with pictures, and a notebook filled with hasty scrawls and notes about dozens of plants. We bought books, watched videos, and read articles online about the wild plants we encountered on daily hikes through fields and forests.

Over the years, we have learned to slow down and take our time to truly become familiar with a plant or mushroom we want to consume. Blogging about our adventures helps me focus on the activity of foraging for wild foods. Developing recipes with our foraged fare gets us to focus on flavors and characteristics of an edible weed or mushroom. We still have plenty to learn, but our pace has slowed significantly now that we have a firm base of knowledge of many common edible plants and mushrooms.

Milkweed, delicious, nutritious, and FREE food
There seems to be an increasing interest in wild food foraging lately, and I am not sure of its source. Is it an increased online presence that has become easily searchable? Is it a food insecurity and poverty-driven necessity? It it a new awareness of the natural world in rejection of an increasingly mechanized society? I don't have an answer to my own questions, but I personally have been affected by the increased demand for the information. This blog has seen increased traffic with each passing month. I have been contacted on numerous occasions by news organizations for comments about wild food foraging, and even more often by individuals who want to join us while we spend our weekends foraging. I see many new blogs popping up, written by amateur foragers and wild food enthusiasts. Established foragers are writing books and touring the country in support of their publications. Fancy restaurants champion and advertise "local, wild" ingredients on their menus as a selling point. There are more people making a living, or at least some money, from foraging now than 8 years ago when we started our wild food journey.

Showing wild grapes
This past month, we have given three wild food walks for limited groups. I am still a bit terrified to speak in a public setting, preferring the shield of a computer screen between my audience and myself. At the Coventry Farmer's Market, the Connecticut Valley Mycological Society (CVMS), was invited back for the annual Forage and Fungus Fair, and we provided 2 short edible plant walks in a field while members of the mushroom club gave fungi walks in the forest for market patrons. Earlier this month, we participated in the Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Association's first annual Fungus Fair. Almost all of the participants on that walk were familiar faces, so I was much more comfortable and relaxed. While we are listed on Green Deane's Eat the Weeds website as instructors, we are just now taking small steps to actively teach others. We look forward to expanding our experiences, and hope to continue sharing our adventures.
Teaching staghorn sumac


wildcraft diva said...

I would love to come to one of your walks/talks :-)

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Unknown said...

i am so proud of you guys!
only a few yrs ago I found your blog - amazed at how your wee family reminded me of my own.
Look at the affect you are having on the community at large!!!
Keep up your great work (cuz I know you guys make it look way easier that it sometimes can be - what with your awesome blog, pics and recipes)
and keep the posts coming!
I always look forward to the next adventure from The 3 Foragers!