Modern Foraging: Mother Nature Is My Green Grocer

I met Mia over 6 years ago, when Anna and I were first launching into PAM. Since then we have been FB friends, and I must say, I LOVE to read Mia’s posts.  She is a chef and a photographer and writer in LA, and has become part of an amazing foodie movement called:  Modern Foraging.  This is taking sustainability to a new level folks.  You do need to be incredibly creative and improvisational in the kitchen, and KNOW that which you are picking, cooking, eating, etc.  What does this have to do with pregnancy and prenatal care, absolutely nothing, but Mia  and this movement is so cool, I wanted to share.  Enjoy!

What is “modern foraging” ?

To us, modern foraging is incorporating what’s in your immediate environment, along with produce from your local farmers  markets, into your diet. Nature has always provided a bounty in almost every terrroir. It’s just that the modern world has, for the most part, distanced itself from their food sources. Modern foraging in our lives isn’t a survivalist thing, but rather an extension of our food sources providing variety and exploration.

How did you get started, and what is an average day like for you?

I met my partner, Pascal Baudar, years ago.  He is a wilderness instructor and wild food expert in Southern California. I am a chef and the more we got to know each other, the more we realized how much we enjoyed foraging together and how much wild food we incorporated into our cuisine. From there, we started doing workshops and events and it’s still our passion to this day. We’re thrilled the culinary world is focusing on wild foods right now, too. It’s an exciting time for us.

 

I don’t go out foraging every day, maybe a few times a week. It’s good to go early in the morning or early evening when it’s hot outside. We sometimes trek out to new areas and see what’s available – especially after it rains – and it’s basically an enjoyable walk in nature for a few hours. Foraging really allows you to be present in the moment in nature. It’s a very pristine experience. Then we usually come back home and find interesting ways to use these wild foods (seeds, roots, berries, greens, etc.) in a modern gourmet application. It’s like being on Chopped and you have this basket of unusual ingredients and your goal is to make something spectacular with it.

How would this look like for the pregnant woman?

At our classes, we actually don’t advise pregnant women to consume forages unless it’s something fairly common like dandelion greens or purslane or wild currants.  I definitely would not advise anyone to put anything in their mouths that hasn’t been 100% identified by an expert.

Wild greens can contain a lot of oxalic acids and they, along with a lot of wild foods, need to be prepared in a special way sometimes e.g. blanched or leached.  But it is such a great and engaging physical activity. You can take your time, stop when you’d like and what I love about it is that the more you go out, the more you start to see nature’s growth patterns and you find yourself syncing along.


For the new mom?

We’ve had so many new moms and dads come out foraging and so far, it seems like all the babies love it. Who wouldn’t love a scenic ride on mommy or daddy’s back or a snooze in nature?  It’s definitely a fun family thing to do and then they are still so little, they can nap while you’re on the trail.

4 tips for the new “modern forager” 

1.     It goes without saying, you cannot learn to positively ID edible plants and aromatics 100% from a book. One of the cool things about foraging is that it’s like an oral tradition…you need to commune with other people and experts to learn.  There’s a wealth of groups online and on social media. People who forage usually belong to several groups. We’ve met some of our best friends in these groups.

2.     Always take more water than you think you need.

3.     Make sure you know if the area you are thinking about foraging has been chemically treated or sprayed. That’s a no go.

4.     If you are a true forager, you are also a preserver. Bone up and take a class on canning and preserving at home. Many edible plants have such a short season and you’ll be glad you did!

Local foraging resources Mia & Pascal recommend:

http://www.christophernyerges.com/
http://aboriginalskills.com/
http://www.cauldronsandcrockpots.com/
http://www.meetup.com/Green-Wisdom-Herbal-Studies/

Mia Wasilevich:  chef, forager, photographer, food stylist, and writer in Los Angeles

Find her and Pascal at Transitional Gastronomy or Urban Outdoor Skills  Twitter: @MiaInABox

***PAM is not advising ANYONE to become a modern forager.  We are sharing a lifestyle of a growing group that we thought was interesting and fun – basically we are posting this for entertainment purposes not medical or nutritional. These foragers are trained and have studied and taken classes, this is a serious movement.  Not for the novice or “want-to-be”.

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