Last week Eric and I went foraging for wild apples. I’d scoped out the tree previously, sampled its bounty, and couldn’t wait to return. A friend and I were walking on a trail when we spotted the tree a few yards off in the underbrush. The apples were bumpy and lumpy and speckled with green and brown and many had tiny holes drilled in them by earlier (non-human) foragers. Unappealing peels. But a tentative bite proved that the inner flesh was firm and tart-sweet; the only thing I spit out was the core.
As an added bonus, my friend and I had also found a crabapple tree that day, the fruit of which was gorgeous, but the taste rather strong. I was excited for both finds though, and brimming with ideas for making use of God’s blessing.
So the next time that Eric and I were on that side of town, we parked the car, headed to the trees, and filled a plastic bag full of fruit. We left behind plenty of fruit on the ground and in the tree (for the benefit of the flora and fauna), and we left behind any apples that had animal teeth marks in them (for our own benefit). I couldn’t wait to make homemade applesauce and deep dish apple pie!
That serendipitous discovery sent me on a foraging train of thought. I’ve decided that “foraging” is not just about scouring the woods and glens for edible plants–it’s also about gathering food in the most common of places, such as the grocery store or a roadside produce stand. Lately, I’ve even been foraging online for harder-to-find items.
What makes foraging distinct from typical shopping? Here are my ideas:
What is foraging?
1. Foraging involves putting more thought and time into what you eat.
Looking for the best quality at the best prices involves a little research, like finding a farm with a good deal on fresh eggs. And better priced or better quality food often requires more work to prepare, like cutting up a whole chicken instead of buying boneless skinless chicken breasts.
2. Foraging involves constant vigilance.
This might mean that you need to keep a watchful eye out when you’re hiking a woodland trail, or it might mean that you need to pay attention to what’s on sale in the grocery store. Be alert to alternative sources of food.
3. Foraging involves creativity.
Accept what’s offered, and work with what you have. Happen upon a cornucopia of produce? Chop some up and freeze it, or make salsa or soup!
More posts on foraging: