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

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“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

Slavery and Environmental Destruction Are Battles Within a Single War

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As demand for cheap fish and shrimp ramped up, a gold rush began in Bangladesh, Southern India, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka. “Worthless” swamp was converted into monoculture shrimp farms, fish processing camps sprang up, and the great freezer ships were always hungry for more. Hearing of work, poor families flooded into the Sundarban wilderness. Some people were able to make a fresh start, and some landowners working in fish and shrimp were honest and treated their workers well. But criminals were already using child slaves on fishing platforms out in the ocean, and for them it was an easy step to enslave more workers to rip out mangrove forests and farm the little wrigglers that would make such a fine profit.

As the people push in more trees are cut, more islands are taken over, and more children and adults are enslaved to do the work. Some act in desperation, others from greed, but the cycle means that more and more of the forests that protect both people and the rich ecosystem are destroyed.

The loss to nature is profound. Nearly half of the amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds living in mangrove forests are threatened with extinction. These animals, for the most part, aren’t found anywhere else: their range is restricted to the mangrove forests of Asia and Australia. At the current rate of forest loss, the forests and all they hold will all be extinct in one hundred years.

Blood and Earth, Modern Slavery, Ecocide and the Secret To Saving the World by Kevin Bales

ReBlog: A #NoDAPL Map

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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

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“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

Cleaning Up

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In honor of Zombie Awareness Month I am posting extra quotes from World War Z – Enjoy!

Yeah, we stopped the zombie menace, but we’re the ones who let it become a menace in the first place. At least we’re cleaning up our own mess, and maybe that’s the best epitaph to hope for. “Generation Z, they cleaned up their own mess.“”

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Endless Remaking

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Their chittering calls to one another vied with the sound of their endless remaking of the world. Axes bit wood into pieces and hammers nailed it back together. Humans could never accept the world as it was and live in it. They were always breaking it and living among the shattered pieces.

Blood of Dragons (Rain Wilds Chronicles Book 4) by Robin Hobb

Dandelion Ambition

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“Home at last! It knew just what to do. Right then and there, the little seed started to grow…Soon many more seeds filled the sky again. Each one had a dream. They bloomed in their own time. And each one made the world more beautiful.”

Dandelion Seed’s Big Dream, written by Joseph Anthony and Illustrated by Cris Arbo

Burden of Convenience

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“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