Fall Foraging: A Return To Our Roots

Header photo: Burdock by Shastared

The day might have made a magnificent postcard. Spring was staining trees with subtle hints of summer. A stream was carrying on an animated conversation with raindrops. Rocks were locked in a shining dual with water. Some humans, armed with buckets, boots, and plastic suits, stumbled toward the stream. They worked in silence, selecting tender sections of watercress. Then one of them spoke: "This is beautiful. It looks like a rain forest." I shot a surprised glance at the speaker. Blood sucking insects and relentless rain had clouded my beauty sensors. But the world in which we waded was indeed exquisite.

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Foraging for Food Is a Way of Life for the Hmong

Imagine that you are from a place and a time where your life, your very existence, is inextricably linked to the land. Imagine that you know the environment around you so intimately that you can spot the swish of a lizard's tail in the undergrowth twenty feet off. That you can differentiate an edible plant from its poisonous cousin from touch alone. That by tasting the soil, you can divine what plants will and will not flourish. That you can disappear into the forest or jungle and emerge 60 minutes later with dinner for your family. That even though your family grows food on a farm, you often venture off with friends to gather what is offered in the wild. That some of your earliest memories are following your mother through the jungle as she bends and stoops to gather greens. That you remember hearing laughter as she and the other women banter back and forth between patches of wild edibles.

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