For my whole life, the idea of foraging has had a romance that I can't quite put my finger on. Way before it became a punchline about hyper-local hipster foodies, to be a forager was a signal of a deep wisdom about the land. To know what could be eaten was to have access to riches that were all around us. In a world beset by industrial foodways, foraging is a reminder that the world can sustain us (or at least some of us) without our machines, if we would simply let it.
The trouble with foraging, though, is that unless you grew up in the style of Katniss Everdeen or the Girl of the Limberlost, most of the earthly wisdom and insight needed to forage well is beyond you. And this is definitely a wisdom that you need to gain through practice. Ideally, some Italian-born wood elf––someone like Angelo Pellegrini or Angelo Garro (who at least is still alive)––would appear to teach a willing learner how to gather and find and hunt out the best things available on the earth. But that's pretty unrealistic. So, the only thing to do is to just do it––after all, if we start small, build up some confidence and awareness, and then keep going, before long we might rediscover some of that lost knowledge so that we can pass it along ourselves.
So, from the experience of one free food fan who hopes to be more, here's how to get started as a forager.
I recently read an exceptional book by John Muir, father of our modern wanderlust and grand adventurer in a time where the great outdoors was truly an untamed place. His descriptions of a first look at the Sierras, of the sprawling views of Yosemite, and the way the woods filled his soul like nothing else could. While the wild is a bit more domesticated now with established trails, cell coverage, and guidebooks, it still holds in an important key to the overall sanity of humankind.
As some of you may know, I live in the concrete jungle of New York. Honestly, it can be overwhelming sometimes. I miss nature, hiking, and all things rustic. Well, I just discovered a Tumblr blog that will help cure those melancholy nostalgic states: Cabin Porn. That's right…nothing but photo after beautiful photo of fantasy-inducing cabins. Please try not to drool on your keyboard...