Monday, 11 May 2015

Going Wild: Foraging for Food

In my last post I talked about free food but this week I take it to the next level being the ultimate freegan by foraging.

Last weekend I hopped on my bike and took advantage of the sunshine to search for wild foods. Wild food locations are highly guarded by those who forage for them and it isn't often you will find someone willing to share their sacred location with you. Not knowing the first thing about where to start my good friend and spirit guide for the day Aaron took me and a group of explorer's out in search of fiddleheads and false Solomon's seal.

Fiddleheads are fern babies, at least that I called them, and their picking season is very limited so knowing where to find them and when to go is tricky business.  I fried my fiddleheads in butter and added salt and homemade honey mustard and they were delicious! I am headed back out this weekend to collect enough to freeze to last for the summer. False solomon's seal It is also a budding plant that if picked at the right time I'm told tastes just like asparagus, I have yet to try mine but I remain skeptical they taste the exact same.

False Solomon's Seal
We were participating in something that seemed so natural and primitive yet a foreign concept to many urban dwellers. Foraging was a way for us to connect back to the land and to our roots, reminding us that food doesn't always come from a grocery store, and maybe that we don't need to be dependent on them. We were also participating in the ultimate Locavore diet eating food that we were cultivating ourselves that was in season,  environmentally responsible and as close as you could get to home.

However as much as I wish to advocate for foraging you might also want to consider how popular it has become in recent years and how that might impact the wild foods and their resiliency. It is possible to take too much from the land so be sure to only take what you need and leave some behind so that plants can have a chance to naturally rebound. We might also consider growing edible plants at home, why not plant your own personal supply of wild garlic and not have to worry about competing foragers discovering your special spots!

With my first foraging trip under my belt I have definitely developed a taste for more! There have been pretty bad forest fires in my area recently which means mushroom's particularly Morel's will be in good supply this spring. I am hoping to go out and find some soon if I can find a knowledgeable guide to show me the way.

Any other tips for wild foods?

Have a lovely day and get outside if you can!

Melanie XX

"Earth was not built for six billion people all running around being passionate about things. The world was built for about two million people foraging for roots and grubs."- Doug Coupland

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Freeganism or Free-loading?

Muffins being put in the garbage
Sometimes there is a fine line between what I do when I salvage food waste... and being a bum. As anyone who has ever met me would know, food waste is a major pet peeve of mine. So if anything is going to be left behind more often then not I will take it home or try to find a mouth to eat it. But sometimes I can't help but feel that the things I am eating from the trash or taking from events, are not normally apart of a local diet. Last week I found a compost bin full of ripe bananas, they were still yellow with brown spots so had been discarded, naturally I took them home and threw them in the freezer to be future banana loaves. A locavore eating bananas? How can this be apart of a local diet?

Confession: I take the garnishes off of platters and bring them home! Kale Smoothie anyone?

Freeganism is a play on words with veganism and eating free food, it has been typically associated with dumpster divers and therefore people of lower income standing and not necessarily those looking to reduce waste. But by taking food for free you are also moving to an anti consumer ideology and alternative form of living. When I take food that is destined for the compost bin or worse, the landfill, I am ensuring food will be consumed and not wasted. I am not purchasing or selecting it in any way so do not become part of the demand for it. Or do I?

Confession: I take unused lemon wedges from drinks at the bar. Lemon Earl Grey tea!

The lineup from the Residence Reciprocity room.
Because they are open they should be thrown out.
By taking leftovers I can't shake the feeling that there are others that need it more then I do. The ethical dilemma doesn't stop me from taking things that were meant for the garbage though as I more often the not end up as a last line of defence for food from catered events and reciprocity shelves.  Sometimes I feel that these issues are more prevalent in Universities which is why I so often get lucky or maybe just because I am aware of these issues now I notice them more often. My diet has become heavily subsidised by free food either given to me by friends or that I find abandoned. In any case with the end of the semester and everyone moving out I was given so much food this year and found so much more left behind at the school I will be set for the rest of my days...well on olive oil vinegar at least.

So taking leftover food: freeganism or free-loading?

XX Melanie

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."- Albert Camus