Monday, March 12, 2012

Why Forage?: Thoughts on a Foraging Philosophy

I've known some who forage because they believe the apocalypse is nigh. Surprisingly these foragers seldom seemed to be having much fun and the food they foraged was often horrible. They just didn't seem to be too excited about . . . um . . . food. And they stockpiled stuff in their basement. From one forager to another, we've got enough crap gathering dust in our basement, thank you very much. Akin to these foragers, we've known some anarchist activists who saw foraging as a political statement against the hegemony of capital-supported patriarchy. And, although I'd be as happy as anyone to see the demise of the 4G-super-ultra-smart-phone androids, I'm pretty attached to libraries . . . and dentistry . . . (I really like not having cavities.) . . . and don't get me started on the fabulousness of birth control.
On the other end of the spectrum, we've known gourmands who foraged for the most exotic ingredients. We've seen some dishes out there in cyberland that must have involved a professional food photographer. The thing is that these recipes often only involve a few wild ingredients, usually greens, and the rest of the ingredients we can't afford.

Some of my favorite people to hang out with are the primitive skills geeks who have replicated the entire contents of the Ice Man's backpack. I also love survivalists who know 32 ways to start a fire with nothing but their bared teeth. I've had serious cases of handmade moccasin and gourd water bottle envy.

I have belonged to all of these groups at different points in my life. End-timers, neo-primitive anarchists, foodies, and "practicing primitives"--I love them all. But that's not what the foraging family is about.

I really don't believe that the world will end anytime soon. If it did, I doubt I'd be one of the die-hards who made it through. Nor do I want to spend my life in the kitchen perfecting the perfect stinging nettle flan. What I want is live simply and freely outside. I want to eat honest fare that was ethically won from my fellow creatures. I want meals that are simple, tasty, and sustaining. And the truth is that I just thinks its nicer somehow to get my groceries on a walk through the woods than under the flourescent lighting and musak of the supermarket.

We've changed our tagline at Foraging Family to "Adventures in Food and Freedom" because we've recently clarified our foraging goals. Our vision is to be able to live freely outside--to be able to walk out of our door one day and not to have to go back inside unless we want to. To be able to spend as much time in God's green world as we can during this short life. That's what we mean by freedom. And I've realized that the BEST way to do that is not to eschew modern equipment, or concoct glamorous wild edible sauces. Instead, it will come from a practical eye for increasing the ratio of sustaining (high calorie) wild foods in our diet and of outdoor time in our busy lives. So this year, we hope that our wild food adventures will include more of the following:

  1. More outdoor cooking. We have to cook anyway. Why do it inside? What a great way to increase our time outdoors. Aesthetically, it's the perfect way to prepare wild food. Wouldn't it be cool to have a cooking show called "Thag and Ooga's Stone Age Kitchen"?

  2. More wandering. How do you find wild foods on the landscape? For me, wild food is an excuse for traipsing through the wilds.

  3. More family. Good stuff is often only good if you share it. Look for more of our family and friends this coming year.

  4. More escape routes. How does someone who works too much get out? That's our mission. I choose to accept it.

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