I recall vividly the first time I foraged for wild edibles. The first time as an adult anyways, picking berries along the fence line on a dirt road as a child isn’t what I am talking about here. I was hiking in some woods near my home and I came across a large patch of greens that I could not identify. I had hiked many miles of woods within my city but never at this particular spot before. I like to identify the trees, flowers, and greenery as well as I can and yet I had never seen this green before. It was intriguing because it was still early spring and not much was growing yet, especially that abundantly.
I picked one of the plants and the green stalk and leaves had a bulb at the end that smelled strongly of garlic and onion. It smelled incredible actually. Could these be ramps? Allium Tricoccum or commonly known as wild leeks? I had heard of them from the same local folks who liked to delve into the woods in March on the hunt for morel mushrooms. Ramps seemed to be almost similarly revered and here I had stumbled upon a huge patch of them. After consulting my phone to to confirm my findings I picked a small bunch of them and took them home.
I cooked them up with some bacon and cracked a fried egg on top. They were heaven sent and from that moment on I was hooked on ramps and hooked on foraging for food. For the next few weeks I would go and collect a small bunch of ramps 2-3 times per week until the short growing season was over. While walking I also found morels, oyster mushrooms, fiddleheads, stinging nettle, and wood ears, which I also love.
If I could be out in nature walking, getting exercise, AND eating such gourmet and delicious foods why wasn’t I doing this a whole bunch more? I would be unlikely to pay the hefty prices associated with morels or ramps in a store but I could find them myself for free??? It was a no brainer for me.
Come summer I was hunting for chanterelles, chicken of the woods, service berries, elderberry, yarrow, wild ginger, and lamb’s quarters. In the fall it was rose hips, hickory nuts, black walnuts, lions mane, and pine nuts. It was time in nature, it was exercise, it was education, it was free food…it was simply the best.
Here are just a few benefits of wildcrafting and food foraging…
- You are spending time outside, getting fresh air and exercise
- You are connecting to the plants that grow near you
- You are harvesting high quality, healthy foods and herbs
- You are in touch with the passing of the seasons
- You are tapping into ancestral practices and energy
- You become intimately acquainted with the local ecosystem
- You learn to live in and embrace the present
- You realize the value of what you once thought were “weeds”
- Nature becomes your favorite grocery store
- You introduce new flavors and foods to your dinner table
Foraging and wildcrafting quickly become a blessing in your life. Every season becomes more vibrant and full of possibility. Every walk in the wood is filled with promise, adventure, and new learning opportunities. Cooking your harvest becomes even more so, one of life’s greatest pleasures. All that from a mere walk in the woods…
Are you ready to get out there?
If you need a little help I really recommend this botany and wildcrafting course.