Photos via Culture Change
Urban foraging is gaining appeal among more people as a way to gather up the free bounty of wild plants that still thrive in city settings. However, it's not an easy thing to do - at least not at first. You need to be able to identify plants, know rules about public property, and enjoy cooking up food that we're used to seeing as weeds. Ecolocalizer let us know about Becky Lerner, AKA Wild Girl, a blogger who has taken on the task of eating only what she can forage from her Portland, Oregon urban forest. Lerner is blogging at Culture Change about her experience. And no, this isn't urban foraging like a freegan out of dumpsters or restaurant back doors. That's a different kind of foraging altogether. What Wild Girl is doing is going back to our skills at gathering plants and, sometimes, bugs.
Most of what I know comes from spending time with knowledgeable friends who are herbalists, survivalists, ethnobotanists and primitive skills enthusiasts. Some of them will be joining me this week and introducing me to foods I've never tried before. What we are doing is a bit like reinventing the wheel. Because we lost most of our ancestral knowledge when our forefathers destroyed indigenous cultures, modern-day foragers are tasked with salvaging what scraps of information we have left. It is essential that we work together as a community to assemble the pieces.
Many of us think gathering anything in a city setting that doesn't look like the produce we buy at the grocery store is a bit on the risky side. However, Lerner is right - food is everywhere, we've just forgotten how to find it.
But don't underestimate how tough it can be. Check out Lerner's blog for her experience, and consider learning about and doing some foraging as a supplement to a meal foraged from farmer's market, rather than your only source of sustenance.