“How do eggplants grow?”
“Can I eat the green tops of carrots?”
“What can grape leaves be used for?”
“Are those mulberries?”
Our curiosity for nature and an urge to explore these questions is a path towards connecting us back into nature. One of the most natural ways to do this is through food. Now, we don’t all have to rush to live on a rural farm with a small permaculture food garden and chickens running around. There are many ways to understand and connect back to nature from right where we live.
According to Carolyn Steele, our cities have been shaped through food. So the way I see it, we can continue to shape our cities in a positive eco-friendly design by the way we choose to eat. One simple way to connect to your natural urban surroundings is to explore the opportunity to urban food forage. Urban food foraging is an act by simply exploring the natural surroundings in your neighbourhood i.e. parks, sidewalks, tree-lined street, and learning to observing and identify the plants and trees that grow in order to harvest them responsibly (i.e. leave some for your neighbours). This is a step in becoming a local food gatherer-forager.
This is what I had to say:
1. Go on an ‘urban safari’ in your neighborhood. Research the leaves, fruit and herbs you pick at home before you eat anything.
2. Accompany an experienced friend or guide.
3. Think of urban landscapes as a living and growing food farm. As your confidence grows, you’ll become in tune with the cycles and seasons.
4. Visit local nurseries to familiarise yourself with the plants, in order to aid identification.
5. Borrow or buy a glossary of herbs or indigenous plants.
6. Educated yourself by attending talks and workshops.
7. Contact your municipality to plant common food trees in local parks such as fig, pomegranate, waterberry, and wild olive.
8. Start with easily identifiable herbs like rosemary and lavender. Use them in salves and strain in hot water.
9. Avoid high traffic areas that are often sprayed with chemicals
10. Always wash plants/fruits before you prepare them.
Read the full article, Local Hunter-Gatherers, and learn about the chef Shaun Schoeman of Solms-Delta, Mushroom cultivator Gary Goldman, and Cape Town foragers, Charles Standing and Loubie Rusch.
Do you have any more tips to add from your wild food foraging adventures? Please share!