by Sandy Swegel
Sometime every year mid-summer, when the weather is hot and the weeds so darn big, I start to think gardening is just dumb. Nature creates beautiful gardens all on her own without requiring WORK from me. Why do I garden? Why does anyone garden? Can’t we just go back to hunting and gathering?
The quickest remedy for mid-summer malaise is a nice walk on the wild side. I head out into nature where, in the nearby foothills, I don’t have to pull thistles or cut dead branches. It’s all part of the beauty of the natural world. With 150,000 people in our county, there’s really not enough there for all of us to hunt and gather. We’d mostly be eating a diet of raccoons and thistles…not an appealing lifestyle.
But we can FORAGE! I now have three favorite foragers I follow online. Wendy was the first modern-day forager I met at a local foraging dinner. In my urban mind, foragers were the wild men who lived in the swamps of southern Louisiana and hunted opossum and squirrel. Wendy is a city girl who spends every spare moment hiking and exploring nature all in pursuit of exquisite flavors…a delicate mushroom from secret forests, the explosive flavor of a high-bush cranberry at peak ripeness, or tender nettle and dock greens she slips into a goat cheese spread. Everything about Wendy is a reminder of how voluptuously she regards wild food. Her website name is Hunger and Thirst and her handle is butterpoweredbike. This is just the kind of inspiration I need on a tedious summer day. Check out her “Wild Thing of the Month” purslane. I know you have lots of purslane growing in your garden? Do you know it’s high in healthy omega oils? http://hungerandthirstforlife.blogspot.com/
I’m a big fan of one of butterpoweredbike’s foraging buddies, WildFoodGirl. Her website http://wildfoodgirl.com and facebook page has great recipes and her website has awesome links to other foragers. Plus if you sign up on her webpage she’ll send you a Wild Things Edible Notebook every month (or so) highlighting plants that can be foraged and recipes for them. You too can make Wild Mustard Potato Chips.
Another great forager, on an epic scale, is Hank Shaw who travels the country hunting and gathering and hosting dinners in local restaurants with locally foraged food. Hank’s handle is Hunter Angler Gatherer Cook. His recipes are beyond compare. Where else can you find recipes for “wild ginger ice cream” or “barbequed wild turkey.” Hank published a great book last year, Hunt, Gather, Cook. Even his website address http://honest-food.net/ tells you about what it is we all crave: honest food, wild tastes, vibrant living.
So if the tedium of gardening in mid-summer heat is wearing on you, head out to wild roads near you…or surf some great foraging websites.