Do you have a friend who’s recently gone “Freegan” or seen a blog headline about dumpster diving and wondered what all the hype is about? Both of these terms describe a type of lifestyle where individuals rummage, scour and explore for food, clothing and other useful articles that other people have discarded as trash.
If the idea of ransacking dumpsters and trashcans isn’t you’re idea of a pleasant way to spend your Saturday afternoon, there are alternatives that still allow you to embark on your own adventure to find food in unconventional places.
Urban foraging is an emerging trend that teaches people how to find edibles in parks, yards and city squares.
In the spring and summer months the foliage is out and parks and lawns turn many shades of green. What many people don’t realize, however, is that many leaves, weeds, flowers and other plants can be collected and eaten for free. In addition, some city parks and yards are home to fruit tree that bear unharvested edibles year after year.
Instead of lamenting the high price of fresh local food, while edibles go to waste all over the city, urban foragers mobilze to eat off of the fat of the land.
Resources for learning how to be a successful urban forager are popping up all over the internet, like Urban Edibles, a community database of wild food sources in Portland, Oregon. Workshops that provide a hands-on urban foraging experience have sprung up as well, like those led by Leda Meredith, an urban homesteader who lives in New York City.
Of course, you can’t go picking tomatoes and dandelions just anywhere you find them, and urban foragers must follow a considerate code of ethics any time they venture out.
Among Urban Edibles’ ethical guidelines:
1. Don’t take more than you need. “A tree full of ripe black cherries can be really exciting but how many will you use before they go bad?”
2. Ask permission before you pick. “We do not condone unsanctioned harvesting practices or trespassing.”
3. Pick in a balanced and selective manner. “The last thing we want is to damage the sources from which we harvest!”
4. Watch out for pesticides and other contaminants. “Paint chips, pesticides, motor oil spills and even car wash runoff can affect the quality of the sources you pick from.”
Image Credit: treehugger.com