“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is what all the old gaffers used to say. The trick to this is finding the tree which bears the delicious fruit. While this saying applies to a whole host of generalized concepts, I’m speaking literally about finding that fallen apple and eating it.
Foraging is finding food and eating it. It is a simple concept which can be metaphorically extrapolated into all areas of human existence. When we need something, we go and find it. Whether we are searching for nuggets of gold, information, or delicious legumes, there are many tricks of the trade that transform mere scavenging into the art of foraging.
The beauties of foraging lie all around you. In parks, forests, gardens, run down abandoned lots, and even your own back yard you can find edibles to fill your belly with. Are you confused about where to start? Well aside from going outside and looking-with those eyeball things attached to your brain, there are many resources available for all levels of foragers.
FallingFruit.org aims to map out all of the foods. In their about section:
Falling Fruit is a celebration of the overlooked culinary bounty of our city streets. By quantifying this resource on a map, we hope to facilitate intimate connections between people, food, and the natural organisms growing in our neighborhoods. Not just a free lunch! Foraging in the 21st century is an opportunity for urban exploration, to fight the scourge of stained sidewalks, and to reconnect with the botanical origins of food.
Mmmm… connecting with the botanical origins of food. Foraging cuts out the middles. The only processing that takes place is inside your, uh, insides and it is a great way to spend time with your friends, kids, enemies, and political representatives.
Some cities are taking foraging very seriously. The City of Seattle is turning an overgrown lot into a foraging park for locals. Beacon Food Forest will include apples, pears, plums, grapes, blueberries, raspberries and whatever else they decide to grow. This is really amazing in a world where everybody is vying for a power increase. It isn’t every day you see a major city actually giving back to its constituents.
Freeganism is foraging applied to the corporate environment. As more radical cousin, freeganism aims to spread awareness:
In the globalized system dominated by a relative handful of corporations, vital resources like food and housing are wasted while the needs of hundreds of millions go unmet. All manner of consumer commodities are produced cheaply, offered for sale at high prices, and often discarded unsold by corporations that dismiss the waste as a cost of doing business. These corporations promote disposable goods over reusable ones, design rapidly obsolete products, and ensure that repair is more expensive than replacement. Enormous volumes of still-usable goods go to landfills that poison the exurban communities pressed into hosting them, with a disproportionate impact on the poor and disenfranchised. Freegans put this waste to practical use by keeping it out of the waste stream.
The main method utilized by freegans is commonly referred to as dumpster diving. This is no ordinary dumpster diving. Freegans clean out the dumpsters of grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants, and many other businesses. A lot of the time companies discard “waste” purely because of expiration dates. These dates do not necessarily mean that the food is bad. What they do imply is that you should precede with caution before consuming. As many of us have likely preformed the smell-the-milk-before-drinking-because-it-expired-three-days-ago-but-I’d-rather-not-buy-a-new-carton-just-yet test, we all have a bit of freeganism in our veins.
So there are many ways to go about finding a no-cost meal. Foraging for food is a wonderful activity that inspires community, nutritional education, and even some radical political movements. Forage on!
Stay tuned, in the next few weeks I’ll have a follow-up with photos and information on food that I’ve foraged!
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