Foraging for wild food is not only the epitome of local, sustainable and organic food, but it’s also free. The time spent in the woods in search of food is very enjoyable so it never feels like work. To me it’s a scavenger hunt that yields many riches.
Personally, I’ve only set out on foraging excursions about 3 times, so I’m no expert by any means. This past April though I organized a group of 15 people and we hired Seattle author, Langdon Cook, to lead an instructional based foraging walk. Cook is the author of Fat of the Land and he has written a second book The Mushroom Hunters (releasing 9/10/13). He blogs over at http://fat-of-the-land.blogspot.com/ and writes about forging, preparation and cooking.
The course covered identification, best practices for foraging and some preparation for these wild edible greens. Cook is a great instructor as he is both very personable, and an absolute wealth of knowledge. Some of the tips he explained:
• Never forage within at least 100′ of any utility poles due to the creosote
• Only take what you plan to eat, leave some of the species you are harvesting for regrowth
• Make sure your identification is 100% spot on, when in doubt don’t forage
• Stinging nettles you can pretty much take as much as you want as it’s a weed and so it grows accordingly.
Since learning about identification of wild edible greens I find myself on various hikes around our area able to identify patches of food in the wild. More specifically I’m making the mental notes of places to come back to at other times of the year knowing that all this food is found in the wild and in abundance. There is something empowering about not only able to locate wild food, but it also provides me a sense of giving the middle finger to big agriculture.
To learn more about foraging, I would recommend you take one of Langdon’s classes which are posted on his blog, or you can check out this books:
Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Jim Pojar
Mushrooms Demystified by David Aror (this is more of an at home reference too big to be a field guide)