Forage

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I’m a bit obsessed with foraging. Not that I’m actually a forager or that I have any drive whatsoever to go out in to the woods and muck about for that perfect bunch of rocket, but I do totally dig that there are people out there who consider this a life passion.

I remember when I first noticed foraging had gone mainstream, when a Gourmet Magazine article was published that focused on former Portland culinary pioneer Michael Hebb’s latest venture – dining along the I-5 corridor.  

“You having a tea party?” shouts a woman from the rolled-down window of her SUV.
“Yes!” screams one of my dining companions, who has walked 32 miles to eat supper on this traffic island. 
Cars whoosh past on the I-5 freeway overhead, a neon sign glows in the distance, and the first bite of ceviche hits me with a wallop. The grapefruit was plucked from a tree in Anaheim, the orange juice stolen from Pomona. The lemon thyme came from a kindly gardener at the start of our trip 36 hours ago. It is the best ceviche I have ever tasted.” (excerpt: Gourmet)

TrendCentral had a post recently on Urban Foraging – the article does a great job highlighting what’s hip on the foraging scene lately. I’ve posted it below in its entirety.

Foraging Field Trips: Whole Foods had better watch its back. All over the country, guides with extensive knowledge of local flora and fauna are taking groups of wannabe foragers into the great outdoors to instruct them on how best to find and enjoy nature’s bounty. Their philosophy is that wild vegetables, fruit, spices and herbs are all around us, if one only knows where to look. (In case you were wondering, dandelions are quite tasty.) The biggest names in wilderness excursions: Christopher Nyerges, who has led over 30,000 people on his Wild Food Outings in the LA area; Russ Cohen, who leads trips through the city, suburbs, mountains and coastal regions of New England; and “Wildman” Steve Brill, who leads field walks through rural areas in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and also through Manhattan’s own patches of green (e.g., Central Park).

Fruitopia: Two years ago, we told you about Fallen Fruit, the LA-based collective that maps the locations of the city’s publicly available fruit. (Later this month, the group will be presenting an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.) Similar groups have since sprung up in other cities. While all have a common mandate – to use food that would otherwise go to waste – their approaches differ when it comes to where they do their picking (vacant lots, front yards) and who they pick for (tree owners, local food banks). While none seem to have raised questions about the meaning of public space to quite the same level of sophistication as Fallen Fruit, groups like Seattle’s City Fruit, the Boston Area Gleaners, Backyard Harvest (which operates in Idaho, Minnesota, and California), and the Portland Fruit Tree Project engage their respective communities in ways that browsing the produce aisle could never match.

Foraging VIPs: Every movement has its luminaries, and this one is no different. The Portland-based journalist Becky “Wild Girl” Lerner blogs about her urban foraging adventures, including the week she spent last year consuming a diet of entirely foraged food from the wild. While she ruled out dumpster diving for the project – she foraged strictly from sidewalks, parks, wilderness areas and yards in the Portland area – the project still involved some decidedly unsavory moments. Then there’s the Seattle-based food writer Langdon Cook – call him the gourmand’s forager. Last year, he spun his blog, which features recipes for dishes you might see on the menu at Momofuku, into a book. Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager takes readers through his encounters with everything from morel mushrooms to squid to Dungeness crabs – all direct from nature, of course.

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