Book Review: The Family That Forages Together Stays Together

When I picked up this book, I was looking for practical information on foraging for food in an urban environment.

I like to garden and (frankly) would prefer to live in the country on a little hobby farm, but I work in IT Security, so my job keeps me city-bound. Identifying and using wild plants is something I’ve had a long-standing interest in, but was never able to pursue, so I started poking around different blogs and forums, looking for information on plant-identification classes and nature hikes. That was when I stumbled across this book.

The family lives in a suburban environment. Midwestern cities tend to look very suburban, even in the inner city – this is not universal, of course, but as a general rule, we have a lot more green space than people in much more densely populated areas (particularly along the coasts). Therefore, this book describes a living situation that is very close to my own.

If you are living in the inner city (a truly urban environment) you will probably find this book equal parts interesting, entertaining and not-entirely-useful.

The book is filled with hands-on practical advice, but the facts are provided through the medium of the journey of discovery this family experienced during a year of living off of what they could forage. Every family member had been involved in learning these skills – and they clearly had a wonderful time playing outside together as they pursued this interest. So, the decision to attempt living off of their foraging for an entire year was a natural and logical progression of this pursuit.

Personally, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was fascinating and eye-opening from the perspective of what is possible, even within a suburban (or urban) environment. There are several points where they decide to collect apples, berries or rose hips off of public land (e.g.: the decorative bushes planted in the medium in the middle of a road or an apple tree in a public park) and find themselves asking – or being asked – if that was even allowed. Of course, the next question was always – who’s going to stop us? After all, there aren’t any official apple-protecting-police-officers assigned to the park.

There are also a lot of really good tips and commentary on raising a family. The beneficial aspects to simply setting a goal and pursuing it together, as a family and as a team, are beautifully illustrated by this book.

It’s an excellent read. I strongly recommend taking a look.

Quotes from this book can be found HERE.

Browsing Nature’s Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs by Wendy Brown and Eric Brown

Activism Alphabet

Quote

Amazon.com

“Equal rights
black, brown, or white.
Clean and healthy is a right.
Every place we live and play
Environmental justice is the way!”

“F is for feminist.
For Fairness in our pay.
For freedom to Flourish
and choose our own way.”

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

ReBlog: A #NoDAPL Map

Quote

This blog post about the importance of maps and the Standing Rock protests is worth a read.

When I decided to become a cartographer, I didn’t just want to make pretty and useful maps. I became a cartographer to make maps that change the world for the better. Right now, no situation …

Source: A #NoDAPL Map

Environmental Empowerment

Quote

Amazon.com

“It is empowering to believe we can stay in good health by making the right choices in lifestyle. It is equally empowering, however, to realize that these choices also extend to the natural world, the environment.”

Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren

Burden of Convenience

Quote

Amazon.com

“It’s not that I abhor convenience. It’s that I feel slathered in it. It no longer feels like a privilege, but like a burden…”

Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren

We Need What We Fear

Quote

Amazon.com

“If the lion, in all its dark, nocturnal otherness, in all its light, internal sameness, does not exist for future generations, if we destroy its habitat, or call open season on it, what could we possibly find to replace it? It is precisely because we fear large predators that we need them. They hold within them so many things we have lost, or are on the verge of losing, personally and collectively, permanently and forever. If we sacrifice the fear, we also sacrifice the strength, the wildness, the beauty, the awe.”

Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren

Community Defined

Quote

Amazon.com

If diversity’s what it’s all about, then our neighborhood is all that and a bag of chips. But without a shared sense of purpose, diversity spells conflict and isolation, not opportunity. I figure that tract of land is what brought us together. None of us is about to give that up.

Before I stepped out of my house that cold morning three years ago, I might have told you “community” was some kind of Up with People fantasy—like-minded folks sharing a Norman Rockwell moment. Now I think community has little to do with like minds. It has to do with very differently minded people finding a way to get along because we all live in, are connected to, and share a sense of place.

Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren

Fools, Dirt and Living the Moment

Quote

Amazon.com

“I would like to wash my hands in dirt, feel the cool, brown earth cleanse me of my sorrows, my pride, my arrogance, and of the belief that cleanliness is next to godliness, when god is most likely dirt, the gritty transformation, my hands like a seed I might fill it with the knowledge of what has come before. Living in the present is overrated. It is walking with the rhythm of the past in your bones that matters. The fool lives in the past and is forever in the moment, a Zen mistake, a clock without a battery, its hands spread open on either side of noon.”

Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren

Karmic Hunting

Quote

Amazon.com

“None of my college friends had ever hunted; that alone made Roy romantically cool in their eyes. They may have been living some version of the American Dream, but Roy was living the American Myth—the one of cowboys and guns, of a lot of action and not a lot of talk.”

“I told a friend about you, and he’s taken up hunting,” I said to Roy once, grappling for some common ground. “There’s this trend going on right now. People want to pay their karmic debt for eating meat, and this guy’s into it. Cool, huh?”

“Guy wants to hunt he should hunt,” said Roy. “Guy wants to pay his karmic debt he should take on a few long shifts at a slaughterhouse.”

Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren