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Awake at the Whisk: Foraging Viewed as Rising Food Trend

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Foraging Viewed as Rising Food Trend

I recently stood amid a crowd of 250 food bloggers. When keynote speaker Morgan Spurlock asked us what we felt were the growing trends in food writing, I boldly raised my hand and asserted, “Foraging!” I mentioned my friend Hank Shaw’s belief that we humans innately desire to hunt for more than just a bargain when we search for our food; that we want to gather it from someplace more satisfying than a supermarket. Yet, as the words tumbled from my mouth, and later, fell repeatedly from the mouths of presenters at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle, I had to ask myself, “Who am I to talk about foraging?”

Have I mentioned that I’m new to foraging? Sure, I grew up hunting morels and wild blackberries. Who hasn’t? And sure, this summer I harvested pounds of wild elderberries to make juice. But I’m no Hank Shaw. I can’t find wild beach peas or thistle. My foraging palette is pretty narrow.

Further reason to doubt myself comes from a hike last weekend. Emboldened by several recent—successful—foraging trips, I grabbed some random berries I found growing on a nearby bush. I had no idea what they were, but they looked pretty! I had enough sense not to eat them. Nonetheless, I gathered and tossed the shiny black beads into a plastic baggie, hoping to positively identify them later, and possibly enjoy a new, tasty snack.

Upon returning home, I reached out immediately to Hank with my new berry photos. I was so hopeful! I had dreams of pies and scones. But Hank’s reply put a grinding halt to my scheming. “They sure look like nightshade,” he wrote.


With a heavy heart, I tossed my hard-won berries into the trash. So much for my grand foraging plans.

But I’m not giving up yet. I still believe this a food trend on the rise (made cool by guys like Hank Shaw), and one in which I plan to take part. I need to embrace what seasoned foragers like Hank know: use a guidebook! Wiser hunters have passed through those forests before me. I think I’d better let them be my guide.

P.S. If you can positively identify these berries, let me know! My other rookie mistake: I forgot to take a photo of the entire plant for help in later identifying the berries. Oops!

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It was so great to meet you! Have you heard about this book from 1962 "Stalking the Wild Asparagus"?

I just found it and plan to start reading it when I get home!
Thanks for the shout-out! Yeah, the leaves those berries came from would have been helpful. Since you said they were sweet, they *might* be huckleberries, although I've never heard of huckleberries growing around Coloma. Look 'em up and see - then go back to the bushes and pick away if they're huckles...
Nice article. We just foraged for black berries and I will be turning them into jam.
It's always so tempting to eat berries that are so juicy and yummy looking. Thank goodness you didn't eat them.

It was great meeting you at IFBC!
Ohhh I want to come foraging some time! I will be no help identifying anything, but I will help you remember to take pictures of leaves and stuff. And I get very excited about these things, as you know. We'll have no lack of enthusiasm!
Hi to my new friends from IFBC! :) Thanks for visiting my blog today.

Hank--thanks, as always, for the inspiration. I'll have to let you know the results of my research.

Shannon, you're making my mouth water for jam.

Carmen, maybe we'll find some food berries behind the microbrewery on your birthday. hee.hee.

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