Thursday, September 15, 2011

focusing on foraging

A few weeks ago I collaborated with my friend Julie on an article about foraging for the latest issue of Joie Magazine.  We wanted to share a bit of our collective knowledge and encourage others to consider adding foraged foods to their menus from time to time.   Putting my thoughts on the subject to paper has kept foraging in the front of my mind and I've been having a little mental conversation with myself about it.  It's obvious that I love it, but why?  And why is it important to me that other people try it too?

For one it makes me feel closer to nature.  Feeding myself from food I've harvested by hand is an intimate act, one that inspires a sense of thankfulness and wonder in me that a microwave burrito doesn't.  I like having access to special food that I couldn't otherwise afford.  Not to say that foraging is so much of a frugal thing.  Yes I may be able to find lobster mushrooms for free in my woods but it takes time and effort to find them, clean them, and cook them.  Do I still think it's worth it?  Yes.

I think people should understand where their food comes from, and too often we don't.  I also think that people are moved to protect things they love.  If people loved dandelion jelly perhaps they wouldn't be spraying their lawns with chemicals trying to kill them.

There's a lot to think about, for me, and I don't want to get political or preachy.  I'm just sort of thinking out loud today.

If you haven't, please stop by the latest issue of Joie - issue 5, and have a read.  The entire mag is beautiful and I think you'll enjoy it.


joanie said...

You put very wonderful words to your feelings for foraging here Lisa. Nature provides us with so much, but modern "conveniences" mean most of us have lost the knowledge to harvest in the wild. It's wonderful that you share what you know and what you've learned along the way here with others. Your enthusiasm is wonderful, and even better, your children are absorbing your knowledge and enthusiasm too :)

Mel said...

Thank you for the link - Joie is a wonderful read, and I loved the article about foraging. My parents taught us to see food everywhere when we were kids. Remember Euell Gibbons? He wrote Stalking the Wild Asparagus, and was an advocate for foraging and eating natural foods. My Dad knew how to forage out of necessity from a very impoverished childhood, and he always made foraging feel like a treasure hunt. I taught my kids to see food all around us too, and our favorite is the wild black raspberries that grow around us. Anyway, thanks for another lovely post and a great link.

Unknown said...

Lisa, you are so right about knowing where food comes from! Even we as adults have got so used to food being packaged so neatly & cleanly - we seem to have forgotten about the source. I have just got back from a wonderful month long holiday in South Africa. I was at the beach with the children and there was a fisherman who had caught a huge musselcracker fish. He was about to head home so gutted the fish in front of us - to show my son how this fish manages to turn large mussel shells into pieces the size of glitter. My 8 year old was shocked at not only how much blood there was but the fact that there was blood at all! I grew up with my father fishing so was used to it but it did make me realise that I need to make them more aware that food does not just land on a supermarket shelf! will post some pics so you can see for yourself - tho' I may not post the little video of the still beating heart 5 minutes after gutting!!!

Tumus said...

I was so excited yesterday while mountain biking I swear I saw one of those lobster/chicken mushrooms. Didn't pick it but I wish I had a guide on me to ID it positively with. It was a really good size. I also saw a really perfect big specimen of some sort of toadstool that was almost a foot tall and had beautiful yellow-y to orange-brown shades on Sunday.

Reading your blog has definitely peaked my interest in foraging away from the "chem-lawns" and into the woods.

Anonymous said...

what a post !!!
I couldn't agree more, my friend, and only regret that I'm not living near nature. Foraging in town is SO not happening, saddly. Anyway.
Great job on the collaboration with Julie for Joie Magazine ! Another e-publication to read tonight !
(and you are not preachy, you know what you want & what you like, and you like to share, and we love you because you share much of your wisdom)

Tumus said...

I think I just ID'd the mushroom I saw yesterday, it was a Chicken mushroom and it was a pretty large batch growing on a dead log. We also saw TONS of puffballs which I had no idea were also edible. I'm talking like a few that were larger than a softball big.

Tumus said...

Oh you might want to check out this blog too I just found. She's pretty interesting:

(sorry for the excessive posting I"m just overly excited I found some edible mushrooms at random)

k said...

we are completely on the same wavelength, i think. i was picking blackberries yesterday, thinking about how so many people don't take advantage of "free" food, but also how wonderful it is to have access to treats from nature like that.

and did i mention it's raining today?!! i actually found a big cauliflower mushroom yesterday, but it was already overrun with worms. but this new rain after weeks of none means i'm sure new fungi will be popping up all over. happy foraging!

Kanelstrand said...

You are so right. People don't know where their food comes from nowadays. And that is why they neither respect food, nor cherish it. Globalization?

I start to feel like a lone warrior when I am the only one seeing food growing in the forest while others even let their apples rot under the trees. Can you believe that?

By the way, your help will be highly appreciated today --> Help me identify the mushroom

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. Great article and tips. The key word in my area is "CHEMICALS" and the reason there is no way I can forage.......maybe if my life depended on it and I had no choice but no way. And trespassing? Yeah, I'll get shot if I did that. Can I come live with you?

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Joanie - thank you. I hope my children are learning a lot from our foraging adventures. It's more than about the food.

Mel - I grew up picking wild black raspberries for my aunt and wild asparagus for my great-grandma, and munching on was just a normal thing for me. I really thought all people ate things from nature, and was quite surprised later in life to discover that wasn't true.

Bonkers - I grew up with a hunting and fishing father so the more visceral aspects of food were normal to me. I think it is important to teach our kids the reality of where our food comes from. You're good to show them. I'll watch for the photos.

Sonia - When I was in Illinois visiting, we went to a farmer's market in a quaint little town nearby and while walking the sidewalk I looked down to see purslane in all of the cracks. It made me laugh. Though I wouldn't have eaten it, it can be surprising where food pops up, even in the city. (but again, not that I'd want to eat it from there...)

Tumus - hoorah! A chicken mushroom! That's the one I cooked up the other day with my tortilla soup. They give a lot of usable food, are you going to harvest it?

Kanelstrand - "they neither respect food nor cherish it". Exactly. Exactly! It's my feeling that people may be less wasteful if they really understood what's involved in getting that chicken sandwich to their plate. We raise fowl for eating and when we butcher them I always say "may we all be so useful". I'm thankful for their sacrifice and we use all of it, in some way.

And it drives me crazy to see the apple trees rotting in front yards! Even here where unemployment is so high and so many people are struggling, they're letting this bounty of fruit go to waste. Argh!

Karen - there's plenty of room up here, come on over. :D

HollyM said...

I so agree with you! I've always enjoyed foraging, gardening, and making much of my own food. I understand it is something personal, creative and intimate but have never examined nor expressed my reasons as well as you.


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