Good things to eat

Foraging – The series

Historical moment here folks!

This is the very first  official “GUEST BLOG” from What Have We Got Here!

And what’s even MORE exciting is that it isn’t just one little ol blog but a series!

My good friend Jacquie who lives in Montreal, Quebec recently had a VERY note worthy food adventure and really wanted to share it with us!

Please enjoy Foraging – Part I

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FORAGING   

Photo: Joe O’Leary, author of the Wilderness Survival Guide. Used with permission

 

Forage /ˈfôrij/

Function: verb

Inflected Form(s): -ed/-ing/-s

Etymology: Middle English foragen, from Middle French fourager, from fourage

intransitive verb

1 : wander in search of food

2 : the latest development in the “eat local” movement

Early humans were hunters/gatherers, in other words, foragers finding their food in the local countryside. Using trial and error, our ancestors were able to identify plants that were useful to them and weed out those that weren’t. Some plants could remove the sting of poison ivy, some fruits could prevent scurvy

Lemons and limes were carried on early sailing voyages to supplement the sailors’ poor diet and help prevent scurvy. Photo: André Karwath

and some leaves made an excellent poultice to help heal wounds. Some trees produced seeds that were edible (and nutritious), some roots could be made into delicious drinks and some bark and seedpodswere found to boost the flavour of other foods.  This lore was passed down through the generations and may still linger as a spark in our collective unconscience.

People have always used vegetation for food and medicinal purposes. While early humans started cultivating some plants, such as wheat and rice, through the ages other  plants dropped off our radar. They became “weeds,” even though they had once been used regularly to cure our ills or provide sustenance.

 Food is now an international industry. Our grocery stores are filled with produce from all over the world, all through the year. Popular products are genetically modified to survive early picking, natural pests and longer transportation times. But the pendulum is swinging back and foraging is once again gaining popularity as a way of providing food for our tables.  

As a logical extension of the eating locally philosophy, foraging brings “local” right to your doorstep. And you don’t need to be living in the wild to take advantage of natures abundance.  Edible plants abound in parks and along the sides of roads. You just need to know where to look and what to look for.

An abundance of useful and edible plants can be found growing naturally all over. Photo: J. Dinsmore

It became popular in the seventies to use “natural” ingredients in skin- and hair-care products and to revive homemade recipes for everything from soap to lipstick. We started growing our own sprouts and making our own bread with new old grains such as spelt and flaxseed. This movement levelled off for a while, but with the newfound interest in eating locally, people are re-discovering, and delighting in, the edible world around them. Local now means the park across the street, the bushes surrounding your cottage and the side of the road you take to work.*

But you don’t need to go out and pull edible roots out of the ground yourself. A new type of restaurant that cooks up  dishes based on foraged ingredients  is popping up like dandelions in the lawn to satisfy the curiosity of foodies and the need of some to go “back to their roots.” I recently had the luck to dine at one of these restaurants, in the Laurentian mountains outside of Montreal, and will be writing a review of the restaurant and the meal.

* Please be aware that most vegetation in public spaces is sprayed for pests and disease and is therefore not suitable for eating. Many municipalities also have by-laws concerning the harvesting of plants on public property (including roadsides), so make sure you research and do your homework before setting out to forage.

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Check back tomorrow for Part II of Jacquie’s adventures in Foraging!

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Comments on: "Foraging – The series" (11)

  1. Diane Ferland said:

    Great beginning Jacquie. Looking forward to other posts.

    • Jacqueline Dinsmore said:

      Thanks, Diane. There are two more foraging episodes and after that . . . who knows?

  2. Cool blog, makes you want to head out and forage local for your dinner.

    • Jacqueline Dinsmore said:

      I find it really empowering to be able to go out and pick stuff you know you can eat. I wouldn’t do mushrooms on my own, though. That’s just asking for trouble!

      • I totally agree. Here on the island, we are very big on sustainability because if there were every any “trouble” like earthquakes etc and our shipping routes were cut off for any length of time, we would be in big trouble! That’s why I grow stuff on my balcony……however pathetic it may be this year!! But it would be good to know what to go forage, if push came to shove!

  3. Hi Jacquie!! When’s the next post? I want to know what I can forage for!! And if there are any of those restaurants in my area!

  4. Jacqueline Dinsmore said:

    And it’s about knowing where your food is coming from, being connected to it. In the summer, I own a share of a farm’s produce and every 2 weeks I get a box full of whatever was harvested that week. It amazes me that I have direct contact with the guy who’s feeding me, the very basis of life. This is not peppers wrapped in plastic off a shelf – it’s Jamie and his wife and their gang of young people who grow, pick and deliver sustenance. I find that really amazing.

  5. Can’t wait to read Part Two! That restaurant sounds amazing!

  6. A great guest post! 🙂 I love foraging! 🙂 A lovely read too!

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