Cook Together celebrates the flavors of spring in the Pacific NW with locally foraged ingredients. Chef Jesse Barber and nutritionist Keri Romerdahl enlighten us on the culinary application and holistic value of eating these wild, seasonal treats.
Our favorite foragers, Foraged & Found, delivered a bounty of wild plants and fungi for us to use. Because it’s early spring we’re seeing very special, micro-seasonal items like baby ginger roots, huckleberries, black trumpets and young nettles.
Why it Matters
Foraging is an exchange with the natural environment that takes us back to our primal roots. It helps us to cultivate a sense of respect for nature, its cycles, and the source of true nourishment. It connects us to nature in a way that has been lost in our modern culture of convenience supermarkets and fast everything. When done correctly and respectfully, it can help return us to harmony with this ecosystem, of which we are all a part.
From a nutrition perspective, foraged food are a product of nature vs a product of agriculture. Thus, they have greater nutrient density – higher in omega-3 fatty acids, bio-available protein and anti-oxidants, and I like to think more prana and life force. These are foods that haven’t been monetized, commercialized, or fertilized. They have not been manipulated by man to grow stronger, or bigger or produce a higher yield. They have grown big and strong all on their own and have likely had to withstand challenging forces of nature to do so.
If you are considering foraging there are a few things to consider. Until you have done your due diligence, and learned the fundamentals, you might want to consider foraging at your local farmers market or co-op. But for those of you who are ready to venture out into the wild, here are some things to consider:
- Never eat a plant you cannot positively identify.
- Try all new plants in small amounts, and never mix too many new plants in one meal until your system is used to them.
- Be mindful that you are sharing this ecosystem with wild animals, insects, bees etc. – so take only what you need for a few meals – don’t stock up.
- Never damage the plant or tree – harvest in a manner that retains parts that keep the plant growing.
- Be mindful of safety – animals in nature, especially deer can carry E. coli, so you might want to consider a vinegar bath before eating your foraged foods. A study published in 2003, found that washing vegetables in a vinegar bath removed 98% of bacteria on fruits and vegetables, and its super easy to do: 3 parts water to one-part vinegar, fill up a clean sink or basin and let your edibles soak about 3 minutes. Then thoroughly rinse in clean water and lay to dry.