Wild Food Foraging Fun

February 26, 2009

What is going on in the header photo?  Someone asked if I was in a cult?  Does a cult get muddy in the Mississippi river?

We were foraging for Wapato or Arrowhead.  Tremendous amount of stomping in the mud to break loose golf-ball sized tubers that were a staple in the diet of some Native American tribes.

It was a class taught by Sam Thayer.  Forager’s Harvest is his company, which seeks to bring responsible wild food foraging, his passion, to a wider audience. 

Sam is a genius.  When he walks through the woods, he not only knows every plant; he also knows the scientific name, life cycle, habitat, which part is edible, and how to prepare it.  He presents all this information in a fun way.  I couldn’t help but catch his excitement.

The classes are an interesting mix of people of varying ages and skill levels.  This photo was taken by Rose Casey, a middle-aged gardener from Madison.  Thanks Rose.

If this interests you, don’t be shy, jump right in.  It’s the best way to learn.  Sam’s book is the best; but there are other books available as well. 

Don’t eat anything you don’t know.  And don’t worry; you will be able to accurately identify plants.  It is what we are meant to do.  Do you have trouble identifying a dandelion? 

I was foraging long before I knew Sam.  I just didn’t think of it as foraging.  When the wild raspberries are ripe, I eat my fill in raspberries every day for about two weeks.

As a farmer, we are always battling weeds. To eat my enemy gives me great satisfaction. 

Stinging Nettle is a plant that has tormented me since childhood and is one of the first to appear in the spring.  Cooking renders the plant unable to harm.  Sam says Nettle is higher in vitamins and minerals than spinach.  I’m looking forward to spring.  Happy Foraging!