This is the second post I've written about why you should go out and forage! To read the first one click here: 10 Reasons Why You Should Forage For Food
1. You don't have to grow it
Many people will tell you that gardening is one of the most fun things you can do, but it's also a lot of work. Whether you don't grow any of your own food or you are looking to supplement what's already in your garden, foraging is an excellent way to get free food without buying seeds, tilling a garden, weeding, fertilizing, etc. All you have to do is go out and harvest it without any of the hard work of growing it first!
Young trout lily leaf and root.
2. But you can grow it if you want to- free transplants/cuttings/etc
You don't have to grow wild food if you don't want to you can you definitely can. I like to have my wild edibles to be conveniently close to my house so I will often transplant them. The tubers of many plants, like jerusalem artichokes, can be planted like potatoes, except they can be harvested all year, require no maintenance, and grow like its nobodies business. To learn more about jerusalem artichokes here's my post Foraging for Jerusalem Artichokes. Other plants, like elderberry, can be grown from cuttings and planted in the yard.
3. Free medicine
Between large pharma jacking up the prices and insurance companies ripping us off, medicine is extremely, often prohibitively, expensive these days. But with a little bit of traditional knowledge and a good eye, the majority of the medicines that we need are free for the taking out in the woods. From immune boosting elderberry, to cancer preventing chaga, to antibiotic usnea, to painkilling willowbark, and adaptogenic reishi, very potent medicine is everywhere. Plus, many herbal remedies are much safer than many modern medicines, treating the true root of the ailment without as many harmful side effects.
A young toothwort plant. It taste like mild wasabi!
Foraging is wonderfully fun and relaxing. It forces you to go outside during your day even for a second to run out in the yard and grab some dandelion greens. Not only is foraged food healthy for your body but going out and getting it is great for your mental health.
5. Valuable skills for when shtf- ease of mind
I am not a prepper, nor is this a prepper blog, but many of the skills I talk about would be very useful in a situation where there's no local walmart to go to. I don't worry my life away thinking about government shutdowns and peak oil and the such, but it does give me peace of mind, and a bit of pride too, to know that I could find food in the nature if I had too. I know that even if my life goes absolutely terrible and I'm homeless, at least I will never be hungry.
Adult trout lily leaves.
6. Carry less food when camping (or at leasts have some treats!)
We all like to have luxury food when camping but it is often heavy and bulky and doesn't last long. But when you know your wild edibles, you will always be able to have fresh, non-dehydrated, food to mix it up with. You may even be able to set off with less food if you know for sure that you will be able to forage along the way. There's nothing like adding some fresh greens to your stir fry or fresh berries to your granola when hiking!
7. Save money of gas running to the grocery store
How many times a week do you go buy food? How much money does that cost you both on food and on gasoline? Well imagine that if you forgot something you could just run out and get some without driving anywhere. Forgot to buy potatoes? No problem, go out and dig up some jerusalem artichokes. Forgot onions or garlic? Just go pick some wild onions!
8. Don't have to support unsustainable ag
Don't like big ag, but sometimes you can't always afford organic food? Well, foraged food is always organic and always free! No pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs!
9. Eat local- no gas used in shipping
In our global economy, food is often shipped thousands of miles across oceans and continents, using massive amounts of fossil fuels, creating food waste, resulting in poor tasting and less nutritional food, and contributing to global warming! Foraged food is always local, always fresh, and never uses any semi-trucks or jet planes to get.
10. You're probably already doing it
There are plenty of foods that can only be found in n ature and cannot be cultivated that are already in your pantry! Maple syrup is a great example of this. There are others including many medicinal herbs and culinary spices. Mushrooms in particular are difficult to cultivate, such as morels, chaga, or reishi. Have you ever eaten wild caught fish? That's foraged, along with other wild meats.
11. Exciting new foods- Terroir
There are thousands, probably millions actually, of wild foods in the world, most of which you or I will never try. But, we definitely won't try any of them if we don't go out and eat foraged foods! You never know there could be something out there that is absolutely the most delicious thing you've ever tasted! I believe that wild foods are often tastier than store bought foods, and more nutritious too. Each one tastes like the place where it was growing, the original terroir (aka "taste of place" for those of us who aren't on the foodie bandwagon).
Young Japanese knotweed shoots, ready for the picking.
12. Food security in the face of climate change
As climate change begins to cause major drought, flooding, storms, etc, the world's food crops are becoming increasingly unstable. Wild plants and animals are much more adaptable, though. Even as food shortages occur, there will always be wild foods to eat, just so long as you have the knowledge to go get them.
Want to learn more? Here's more posts I've written about foraging:
Foraging for Hopniss (Groundnuts)
Foraging for Jerusalem Artichokes
Foraging for Reishi Mushroom
10 Uses for Basswood
Maple Sugaring With Draft Horses
Willow Bark: The Homesteader's Aspirin
10 Reasons Why You Should Eat Roadkill
Nature's Antibiotic: Usnea Lichen
Is it Legal to Pick Up Roadkill?
How to Harvest and Process Chaga Mushroom
Speaking of resources, here are some of my favorites:
Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete. Sorry, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it, at no extra cost to you. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them. I am not a medical practitioner; consult a health professional before using any herbal remedies. I am not claiming to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any ailment.