Why Foraging For Food Is Suddenly So Popular

By Brian Scheid | Published

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Since modern society has progressed past the point that most of us don’t have to go out and hunt and forage for our food daily. It wasn’t all that long ago that the ability to find and locate your own food was the difference between whether you lived or died. There has been a resurgence within our population of people that are getting out daily and foraging for their daily substance which begs the question: Why?

Since last year, the price of food has increased by an astounding 14.6%, the largest year-over-year increase in 42 years. Combine this with high inflation and soaring energy bills, and you have a recipe for people in a tough economic position having to figure out how to make ends meet. The one viable option is foraging for food to decrease the household food bill.

Personally, I have spent many daydreams wondering whether I would be able to adapt to that type of existence if the breakdown of society as we currently know it was to occur. If there were no stores to go pick up that night’s dinner, how would I fair in such a scenario? In my glorified imagination, I, of course, adapt seamlessly to the survival conditions and flourish by finding the best ingredients to continue to be able to feast on the bounty of the earth.

Unfortunately, that is just my imagination because I know that I can’t tell the difference between an edible mushroom and a harmful mushroom. It would be a matter of days before I was lying on the ground in excruciating stomach pain which may or may not kill me because something I ingested that humanity has previously documented is not good for a human’s well-being and health. I most likely would be one of the first to start to starve and start eating anything I could find to try and survive, but my lack of knowledge about what is edible would be the reason for my demise.

Joe Skirkowski detailed his experiences when he committed to urban foraging for a week for an article for Vice. He arranged some time to take a crash course from local master forager John the Poacher before he started his experiment. According to the Vice article, “John forages much of his food but advises that to live off foraging alone would require advance planning and more understanding than I’m going to glean over a day or two. With this in mind, I decided to allow myself a daily portion of non-foraged carbs, some odds and ends from my garden, and cooking basics like oil, salt, and pepper.”

Even with this crash course in foraging his recommendation was that without a better understanding and more planning it would be ill-advised to dive into foraging due to its potential to be deadly. Thanks to technology Joe was able to use an identification app to steer clear of any poisonous mushrooms or other harmful vegetation. He described some meals that he was able to prepare that were tasty (like a three corners leek pesto that he served on top of the mushrooms and couscous).

Joe summed up his experience as, “It’s been a week of reasonable highs and minor lows, but mostly mushrooms.” I think that it would be interesting for a few days but when the repetitive grind of foraging on a daily basis really set in, I know I along with a lot of us would get tired of that existence rather quickly. In closing Joe also affirmed in the Vice, “For a hobbyist like me foraging is fun, rather than being a viable alternative to shopping – at least for anything other than mushrooms and three-cornered leak.”