Foraging 101

An Article from our partners Anima Mundi Herbals

Let’s get ready to get wild.

Did you know that by 2050, it’s estimated that nearly 70 percent of the global population will live in cities? {Conscious City Guide editor’s note: this is exactly why we’re called Conscious CITY guide, how to be Conscious in a city} That means urban agriculture, ecosystems and foraging are all worth exploring. Urban foraging, a modern “gathering” rooted in ancestral traditions, is believed to have a plethora of positive outcomes for both public health and nutrition at a time when food insecurity and extreme hunger are frighteningly common, even in the United States. According to Save the Children, 17 million children and 2.7 million families suffer from hunger in the U.S., up by 6 million from the start of the pandemic.

So, how will we feed our societies and ourselves in the future?

One possible solution is to follow Hippocrates advice from 400 BC: “Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” At Anima Mundi, we often examine the importance of preventing and managing dis-ease as we’re crafting our offerings. As you may have noticed, much of our apothecary is centered on whole person wellness. We also focus on the equally important counterpart to herbal allyship: nutrition. What better way to let food be our medicine than to forage it with our own hands, in the wilderness of our backyards?

Don’t just go chasing weeds!

Gathering up the plants, fungi, and other edible and medicinal resources can bring us closer to nature and to our neighbors. Though abundance is everywhere we look in our communities—rooftops, backyards, and even sidewalks—our daily grind often prevents us from taking stock of what is available to us within an arm’s reach. If we’re not plant experts or fungi fanatics, we may feel foraging is too overwhelming to attempt. Today’s dos and don’ts offer a Foraging 101 crash course in where to look, demystifying these complex socio-ecological practices that could secure our collective food futures.

Read more about the Do’s and Dont’s of foraging in Anima Mundi’s full article including How to Get Started, Herbs to look out for like Elder, Honeysuckle, Dandelion, Fungi, Nuts, Seeds + More here.

And one last share from the article before we go:

Foraged edible mushrooms

How Can I Forage Sustainably?

Know what you’re taking.

Besides the risk of ingesting poisonous plants, knowing how to identify what you’re foraging is an essential first step to both your survival and your enjoyment. In addition to the helpful hints from a growing network of foragers who share free information, check out this foraging map and this list of suggested spots to connect with others in a specific geographic area who are already foraging there. Or, take a few tips from cook and professional forager Wross Lawrence, who believes, “Foraging, no matter where you are, is a good place to start [thinking about our vital relationship to the natural world].”

Learn the local laws.

Forage Culture offers a great starting point for laws of access on public land, but remember it’s ultimately your responsibility to get to know your jurisdiction’s foraging restrictions. 

Follow the abundance.

If something grows plentifully in your area, it’s worth learning more about and foraging often. When you forage responsibly, you’re actually helping the environment while adding a valuable source of nutrition and medicine to your family’s table and medicine cabinet. 

If it’s rare, don’t dare.

Contrary to abundant species, some native and rarer plants should be left alone. While fungi of all sorts are experiencing more popularity than ever, thanks to documentaries like Fantastic Fungi and other recent media, the Woodland Trust advises not to collect “button” mushrooms, and to be sure the mushrooms you take have already opened their caps.

Connect with the community.

Whether through commonly known digital sources like Meetup or Facebook groups, or via this international network of foragers (or a similar site), there are tons of folks out there who want to walk the walk with you. The old adage “there’s safety in numbers” isn’t just for nights out or women seeking support in groups; it’s also one way to develop relationships with people who know the land, are curious about the natural world around them, and can steer you in the right direction. Foraging, once you get the hang of it and learn more about the small details that make some plants edible and others toxic, can be a truly peaceful solo retreat. Until then, go with others, and you’ll be rewarded with a bounty for all. 

*Conscious City Guide receives an affiliate commission from the links in this article

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