Week 15: Living off the land

Foraging respectfully

“In some Native languages the term for plants translates to “those who take care of us” — Robin Wall Kimmerer

This week we are taking a bit of a break from the social justice focus and instead talking about sourcing your food straight from nature. However, this topic, just like everything else, is inherently steeped in inequity. From the pollution caused by the meat industry, to the low wages and bad conditions for workers on certain farms, and the unequal access to nutritional food for the poor and people of color, the food system in the United States is messed up. Foraging is an effective and rewarding way to decrease your impact on the environment and stop enabling the food industry, but it takes a lot more time and effort then grocery shopping. 

The Secret Life of Mushroom Hunters

From Outside Magazine comes an interview with Langdon Cook, author of The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America. In his book, Cook explains the crucial role mushrooms play in the ecosystem and in cleaning up the mess humans have made. “We've discovered that mushrooms can mitigate oil spills; they've been shown to cleanse radiation out of the environment,” said Cook. The mushroom hunting community has a long history of violence and conflict. Cook details a tense encounter with a group of hunters from Laos in which he, as an “outsider” was suddenly forced to leave.

Urban Foragers Take the Law Into Their Own Hands

In much of the Pacific Northwest, foraging is illegal due to the risk of over-harvesting and environmental degradation. But foraging is not just a new fad; many people forage because they can’t afford groceries and for others it helps them feel closer to nature. In NYC, foraging is illegal as well, but that hasn’t stopped people. One man, “Wildman” Steve Brill has been leading foraging tours around the city since he was arrested for eating a dandelion in 1986. But Brill is just one of many people to get arrested while picking. One solution to the recent crackdowns are human-planted “food forests” that are supposed to replicate wild forests and allow foraging. Beacon Food Forest, located in a poor town in Seattle, allows free foraging and identification classes.

This plant is called Burdock! It is one of my absolute favorite root veggies! You can use it either medicinally or for food. You can not eat the leaves unless you happen to be a goat or iguana (too tough to digest). Instead, you use them fresh or dried crushed up or cut finely mixed with wet kitty litter or clay (absorbents) to make a poultice. If you bandage that mixture onto a bruise, it will heal faster. The root is great cooked like a potato in soups, stews, rice, beans, or even spreads. I take advantage of the tough texture and make a vegan burdock beef jerky by marinating slices of the root and baking it. When the second year stems comes up you can also peel them and cook or eat raw. Tastes just like artichoke!
July 12, 2019

Foraging on stolen land

Most of the knowledge on wild edible and medicinal plants in the U.S. comes from indiegnous peoples as their techniques were developed centuries ago. However, today as foraging is becoming increasingly popular, indigenous folx are finding it harder and harder to forage. Although a law was enacted in 2016 that allowed registered Indigenous peoples to forage in National Parks, many indigenous folx are being excluded due to arbitrary identification processes

🌱Honor🌱 "In some Native languages the term for plants translates to, 'those who take care of us." -Robin Wall Kimmerer ::::::::::::::::::::::::All prints are for sale on my society6 shop. #plants #plantmedicine #drawing #painting #acrylicpainting #feminineart #ecoart #reciprocity #robinwallkimmerer #quotes #ecology #climatecrisis #earthypalette #earthy #sacred #spirit #honor #heartists #heal #instartists #art #artofinstagram #artofheart #fern #honorableharvest
December 10, 2019

The Honorable Harvest 

Along with respecting the people who first foraged on this land, when you enter the woods to forage, you must agree to the rules of the non-human. According to Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, these rules are called the honorable harvest. Studies show that picking pieces of a plant can actually help its growth. However, this only works if foragers take only what they need, never take more than half of what a plant is offering, give gratitude, and as Kimmerer says, “never take the first, never take the last.

Sunshine in @littletreemother’s garden basket 🌈 (photo by @littletreemother) Erin was the first person I interviewed in Plants Are Magic volume 1. Thanks for sharing my excitement about the magazine so early on, Erin ❤️
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I’m undecided as to whether I’ll interview anyone in the next issue... I’m not sure if to make each section like a chapter in a book - tutorials, articles, recipes etc, but no interviews. But I honestly LOVE the chats I’ve had with people so far, over the 4 issues.
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Let me know what you think I should do ☺️💚 Do you enjoy reading interviews?
December 1, 2019

Thank you for reading! This week, I hope you take the rules of the honorable harvest out into the forest with you.