I’ve had an appreciation for nature for all of my life, but just in the last few years have I developed a deeper interest in the outdoors. Slowly but surely, I have been spending more and more time learning about wild foods and medicines. I am still a beginner, but I’m happy to have taken the steps that I have. This year, one of my intentions is to push myself further than I have before to learn about these plants.
The winter is a difficult time for foraging in Iowa, so I’m spending my time reading up before spring comes back around. Last fall, I attended an incredible foraging event called the Midwest Wild Harvest Festival. While there, I listened to and learned from several experienced foragers and came away with knowledge, friendship, and inspiration.
The keynote speaker and one of the leaders of the conference was Sam Thayer. Currently, I’m devouring his book, Edible Wild Plants.
One of my favorite excerpts so far is as follows:
“Most people get sick from restaurant food several times in their life, and many die from such food poisoning every year. One never hears that ‘If you eat at restaurants you’ll probably die,’ yet I hear the same said frequently about collecting wild food, despite the fact that foraging deaths are almost unheard of.
The fear of eating the wrong plant and being poisoned runs deep for many. Some people talk as if toxic plants are lurking in the woods, waiting to jump into our mouths and slither down our throats at the slightest faux pas. But foragers are not a bunch of toddlers who walk about the forest sticking random plants in their mouths. The consumption of an object is a deliberate act and can therefore be done with care and scrutiny.”
I laughed out loud at this. I’ve had family members refuse to touch delicious foraged mushrooms I’ve prepared as though I were trying to poison them (even though I sat eating a heaping pile of said mushrooms).
It’s a strange world we live in when we refuse to trust the foods that were given to us in abundance. I look forward to learning more about these foods in the days, months, and years to come.
Any fellow foragers out there? What’s your favorite thing to hunt for in your area?