Living a green and sustainable lifestyle includes lots of different attributes. Recycling, reusing, repurposing and using less are all parts of living in as way that is earth-friendly. Another way to live with a smaller carbon footprint is to take advantage of the free and wild foods that grow throughout the United States. The first people on the American continent were excellent hunter and gatherers; they took advantage of the food sources that were in abundance wherever they happened to live and used every bit of those resources. They were the first to make foraging a way of life out of necessity and respect for the planet.
As America became a land of immigrants and today, continues to grow in population, food resources have decreased and U.S. citizens have become more dependent on others to supply their dietary needs. The earth has more environmental problems than can be discussed in this space, but if each individual did a little bit to provide their own food in an environmentally safe way, the world would be a better place.
For these who may just beginning to become interested in searching out free foods the earth has been providing for thousands of years, the San Francisco Recycling Examiner suggests the following books about foraging. They provide an introduction into safely and legally foraging in both urban and rural spaces for nutritious and plentiful foods.
“A Feast of Weeds: A Literary Guide to Foraging and Cooking Wild Edible Plants” by Luigi Ballerini, Santis Ada De, Casa Giuliano Della and Gianpiero W. Doebler (University of California Press, Oct. 2012) Learning to take advantage of the veritable feast that awaits outside the front door just got easier with the release of this book. From recognizing nettles, dandelions, fennel and more to delicious recipes to transform these foraged plants on the dinner table, this book will have everyone grabbing a basket and heading outside to find something for the next meal.
“Foraging” by John Lewis Stempel (Elliot Right Way Books, Aug. 2012) Foraging isn’t just for people who live in rural or semi-rural areas. This book provides tips for finding free wild food in urban environments, as well. Ideal for the beginner or those that just want to expand their knowledge of wild edible foods, this book includes 100 foods that grow wild and are safely edible.
“Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer’s Market, with 88 Recipes” by Tama Matsuoka Wong, Eddy Leroux and Daniel Boulud (Clarkson Potter, June 2012) Organized seasonally, this book includes information for foods that are available at different times of the year. Recipes are included to make sure the full flavor of each plant is utilized. For those unable to forage plants for themselves, the authors include information about finding the plants at farmer’s markets.
“The Joy of Foraging: Gary Lincoff’s Illustrated Guide to Finding, Harvesting, and Enjoying a World of Wild Food” by Gary Lincoff (Quarry Books, July 2012) A fully illustrated text gives foragers information on recognizing which plants are edible and which are toxic. Including recipes for cooking all sorts of foraged foods and tips from fellow foragers, this is a great book for those who are curious about the foods that can be found growing wild.
“The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)” by Robin Mather (Ten Speed Press, 2011) Part memoir, part recipe book and part instruction manual, this is the real story of how Robin Mather changed the way she was living and eating out of necessity. Always a promoter of eating local, Mather learned how to do that seasonally as well when she moved back to her native community in Michigan. A must-read for anyone who doubts they can succeed at living a frugal and sustainable lifestyle.
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