A Rewilding Manifesto
I have gathered blueberries and other wild edibles countless times since my childhood days, but the essential wonder of it remains. Foraging satisfies my needs on so many different levels, both physical and spiritual. It has become my personal touchstone not only with my past but also with the natural world around me.
Now, of course, I can and often do supply a litany of rationales as to why my pursuit is a desirable one — anything from personal survival, to improved nutrition, to even a heightened sense of environmental awareness. But all of these reasons come after the fact and serve only to justify what I am already doing.
Basically, the reason why I gather wild foods now is the same one that applied when I was a child: it’s fun.
Lee Ann Peterson, Foreword, The Wild Foods Cookbook
As the pitfalls of the current food system become increasingly clear, gathering wild food has been steadily growing in popularity. After all, it’s only natural. Here are seven reasons to go “off the eaten path.”
1. Wild food is FREE
At nature’s supermarket, you can’t beat the prices. This is one place where you get what you don’t pay for.
2. Wild food is a FOODIE DELIGHT
It’s fresher, more unusual, more diverse, and more flavorful than its garden-variety descendants.
3. Foraging is HEALTHY
It’s not that wild food is so good for you; it’s that anything else isn’t. We’re designed to eat natural food. Natural means from nature. It’s what we evolved to eat. And foraging is far safer than we imagine for the same reason. Foraging gets you outdoors, where shopping is a pleasure. Fresh air, sunshine (as in Vitamin D), real exercise, and nature therapy are all part of the package.
4. Foraging is SUSTAINABLE
Foraging doesn’t hurt the woods; what hurts the woods is not foraging. A third of the food produced in the world goes to waste. Besides, there is no “sustainable agriculture” or “local food” when what you’re growing isn’t really local. Wild food can be grown, and it’s the key to ending hunger.
There are no “food deserts,” only poverty and ignorance. When you can feed yourself from nature, it’s not just the food that’s wild and free.
6. Foraging is RECONNECTING
Hunting and gathering connects you to nature as well as to your foraging forbears. When you take time to eat the neighbors, you rediscover Eden.
7. Foraging is FUN
Foraging, a.k.a., find dining, is the original Easter egg hunt, a perpetual shopping spree.
Foraging isn’t about surviving; it’s about thriving. It’s about living the life we’re meant to live. There is truly enough for everyone, even at our current population, if we go back to square one and join the circle of life once again.
As younger generations come of age in an era of climate catastrophe, more and more members of the Gen Z and millennial cohorts are turning to the earth for answers to their own wellbeing – and the health of the planet. Their burgeoning mushroom madness just might be the quintessential sign of the times.