“What happened in this country, especially since the Industrial Revolution, was that wild foods were deemed of lesser quality, and therefore less desirable, than cultivated foods. The prevailing attitude seemed to become that if one had to forage for food, that meant that one was too poor to purchase food, and in this Land of Opportunity, where everyone could and should be rich, being poor was akin to being worthless and lazy. Only those who were very desperate foraged, and only in times of extreme hardship … or only for certain foods.”
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.
Re-blog: Stealing to eat: London’s hungry criminalised for taking waste food from supermarket bins – http://wp.me/p40ccd-1Op
I am sure many people think that it is just criminals who are locked up for stealing. However, our society will lock people up for two weeks and fine them on average £150 for “stealing” the equivalent of a £15 food shop from supermarket waste bins. The obvious irony here is that if they had £150 they would not need to be looking for food in bins in the first place. Thus our society perpetuates its own problem…Surely the most economic solution would be for the police to issue the offender with a caution and direct them to the nearest food bank…Yet a further freedom of information request informed me that between 1st January and 31st December 2016, 2,823 people had been “proceeded against with a charge or summons where food property was stolen.”
“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
“As we reflect on our year of foraging adventures, one thing we marvel at is nature’s capacity to heal, and while we cannot prove it (yet — more research definitely needs to be done), we are certain that the foods nature offers at any given time of the year are exactly the foods we need to achieve optimal health. That is, what grows where we live is what we need to stay healthy.”