On April 1st, I will begin a year-long challenge aimed at eating a wild plant or mushroom every day. You may think this is an arbitrary goal (and rightfully so). Even though I eat wild plants and mushrooms nearly every week, I think the day challenge will be a useful one for many reasons.
First, I have gotten distracted by other projects in the colder months, such as hunting for deer, the holidays, and work, which has led to me being somewhat lazy when it comes to preserving wild food to have available in January, February, and March. Luckily, I am not lazy when it comes to nuts. I collect a lot of acorns, black walnuts, butternuts, and hickories in the fall, process them, and make a range of tasty snacks for the holidays. But, when the holidays are over, I’m often left with a few jars of dried roots and leaves for teas and cordials for alcoholic drinks. Taking on this challenge will give me a mandate for being better prepared for the winter, and get me into a better habit of preserving food in general. Thankfully, my partner is very good at preserving things. We have a whole pantry full of jams, jellies, sauces, and pickled items from cultivated vegetables and berries.
Second, I don’t eat a high enough quantity of wild edibles to adequately train my body for the wilderness survival trips I do. Last May, on a five-day survival trip, I had trouble stomaching the quantity of wild foods I needed to eat to maintain adequate caloric intake. I wished I had been better prepared. It turns out that my normal intake of a handful of wild edible meals a week during the spring is not adequate. The year-long goal of eating at least one species a day will not, by itself, satisfy my training needs, but it will serve as a reminder to eat higher quantities.
Third, wild plants and mushrooms are rich in nutrients that are hard to come by in cultivated foods. Therefore, eating them once a day can help serve as a daily dose of important vitamins.
Last, but not least, eating wild food every day will give me excellent fodder for writing interesting blog posts for you all to read. You can learn, along with me, about how to find the time and energy to forage on business trips in unfamiliar locations! You can learn about how to stockpile foraged items for anticipated dry spells, or wet spells for that matter. Together, we can learn how to make our hobby into a more complete lifestyle and how to survive a year in a harsh northern climate off from just wild fare if we ever have to.
April 1st should be an interesting day to start foraging since the snow hasn’t melted here yet and the daytime temperatures are still around 30 degrees!