Fun Times Foraging
Hilton Mom Voyage
November 7th, 2014
Let me begin by saying that while I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled upon wild food foraging, it may be the most interesting and educational adventure I’ve ever done with my family. If memory serves me correctly I was surfing the internet when, somehow, I discovered this golden nugget of an idea.
Upon digging a little deeper into what foraging for food actually encompasses and whether or not this would be a good choice for those traveling with kids, I found a company called No Taste Like Home in Asheville, North Carolina that has been offering wild food tours since 1995. Luckily, that’s just where we were headed and everything I saw on their website only made this idea sound even more appealing. Needless to say we decided to give it a go…and now I’m going to share about it with you, because we loved it!
What Is Wild Food Foraging?
Simply put, the basic description of food foraging is looking for wild food resources in the great outdoors. In this particular case, that meant meeting up with an expert guide from No Taste Like Home, in a specified woodsy location (which changes each week to make sure that the area has plenty to forage), and then searching the area for wild mushrooms and edible plants.
The guide begins with a short introduction and then shows some examples of wild mushrooms and other edible plants and even encourages you to taste some of them. Each of the foragers, including the kids, are then given a basket and a useful tool called a “brife,” a knife taped to a small brush used to clean wild mushrooms and other wild food, and are sent off to search the woods for nature’s bounty.
After about 15 or 20 minutes, the group reconvenes to lay out all they have collected as a whole. The guide then explains what’s been found, points out the differences, describes which are edible and which taste the best. You’ll also learn many interesting and fun facts before you are sent out on your second excursion where the process repeats itself again.
The three-hour adventure ends with the guide cooking and serving up some of the local wild mushrooms for everyone to share, and then he sends you on your way with your very own bag of loot. Yes, you feel like a bona fide explorer and it’s totally awesome!
Why Our Family Loved Foraging for Food and Finding Wild Mushrooms
First of all, we were a little uncertain about what to expect as we headed to our obscure location within the woods of the beautiful mountainous region of Asheville. However, with precise directions we easily found our group of foragers and were ready to head out on our three-hour expedition. There is something quite magical and peaceful about being completely surrounded in a beautiful natural setting.
Our expert guide, Alan Muscat, a self-proclaimed philosoforager who also happens to be the founder of No Taste Like Home, was a relaxed and highly-skilled forager with a zest for the great outdoors. From the first moment of introduction he truly piqued our curiosity, made us laugh and provided a ton of fun and interesting facts about what we might expect to find on our adventure.
Loaded with wonderment about all of the natural food that awaited only increased our excitement for foraging for food, and the experience actually felt like a magical Easter egg hunt provided by Mother Nature herself. My kids literally had twinkles in their eyes as they scanned the woods in search of natural treasures, and each time they found something they felt a sense of accomplishment as great as if they’d found the golden egg.
The experience made us keenly aware of our surroundings and encouraged a deep sense of appreciation and gratification as we uncovered the natural treasures. We learned so many cool things about our bounty, including finding a wild mushroom that released a little gray puff of what looked like smoke, aptly nicknamed “the wolf fart,” which my kids thought was hysterical. So when it came time to sample the prepared bounty, even my super-picky eater gave it a taste and actually enjoyed the fruits of her labor. (For anyone who struggles with a pint-sized, super-picky eater, you know that getting them to taste new things is actually magic all in itself!)
Everything about the adventure was incredibly peaceful, supremely interesting and truly fun for my entire family. And, we got to bring a bag full of natures bounty home too… SCORE!
Why Go Foraging for Food with No Taste Like Home
No Taste Like Home is the best choice for foraging for food in Asheville, North Carolina for a few reasons. First, they are an educational organization that reconnects people with the bounty of nature. Specifically, they are leading an initiative to combat hunger by teaching foraging for food in the school system as a basic skill. And you must admit, that’s pretty cool.
Second, all of their guides are expert foragers, with a passion for the great outdoors and who have dedicated their talents to teaching folks, both young and old, about the bounty of nature. The added benefit of being guided by an expert made everything that much more enjoyable!
Third, they have partnered with several Asheville restaurants who will happily cook up your after-trip loot bag of wild mushrooms and edible plants, and that’s just plain yummy! Finally, they are thrilled with the idea of having young foragers attend their outings and aim to inspire them with a lifelong passion for nature and all of its edible plants.
Our guide made foraging for food fun and broke down the barrier of fear that often keeps people from discovering new things. This made the trip especially meaningful for my kids as they felt confident, included and appreciated throughout the entire experience. In my book, that makes for an excellent family adventure!