Image credit: The Perennial Plate
Last week I posted a video from The Perennial Plate in which Daniel and Mirra learned about foraging for sea beans, digging for "geoduck" giant clams, and even making your own sea salt. At the time, I argued that such wild food adventures were hardly the pinnacle of low carbon eating—but that they nevertheless provide a fascinating lesson in never, ever taking your food or where it comes from for granted. This week's episode has another important lesson about foraging. As the team set out in search of burn-site morels in the mountains of Washington, I'm reminded of just how much foraging teaches us about reading the landscape and tuning yourself in to the world around you.
Having learned how to grow shiitake mushrooms, and read up a little on hunting for edible mushrooms too, I am not a complete stranger to the world of shroom gathering. Nevertheless, I have yet to have the privilege of hunting for morels in the wild. But I have taken a few mushroom identification classes in the past, and what struck me most was not how much my instructor knew about mushrooms—but how much he knew (and felt) about any and everything to do with the forest.
This episode is a vivid illustration of just this point. When author and forager Langdon Cook is asked what the trick is to spotting morels, he seems a little stumped. However much he knows about rainfall and aspect and vegetation (and he does know a lot!), it's just as much about slowing down, tuning yourself in to the right frame of mind and allowing your eyes to work on a different scale of focus than they are used to. And that, in itself, is a valuable lesson in a world that never seems to stop rushing.
Of course the mainstreaming of foraging brings with it its own sustainability conundrums, but I tend to believe we protect what we value. And if theexperience of eating from the wild can help folks understand what we stand to lose, then that's one very valuable meal indeed.