I was raised in an era when children played outside a lot.
After cartoons in the morning wree through, out you went! One of my first memories at age 5 was roaming the neighborhood with my little friends and pulling up immature carrots from a garden across the street. Sitting on the ground, we made a meal out of the neighbors plantings. Boy did we get in trouble! I will never forget the fresh taste of those little carrots. That precious memory was one of my very first foraging experiences!
Since then, foraging has always been a cherished activity for me, and to this day I roam the wild spaces of wherever I am looking for what I can make a meal out of! As most foragers know, there are a plethera of wild plants that are not only edible, but even healthier than cultivated plants. Because plants that grow in the wild must survive harsh weather and compete with other species to survive, they grow strong and resilient--making food that richer and more nourishing than their cultivated cousins. This is why if you eat a wild edible salad, you'll quickly feel full on a much smaller portion.
A few things I forage for around Muskoka are chokecherries and elderberries. From these I make delicious jellies! The thrill of the hunt is always on my mind in late summer when the berries are ripe. The idea of getting 'free food' is devine, and knowing how to prepare it is a great skill to have. Mushrooms are an even greater passion of mine, and Muskoka is an ideal place to harvest these. All the mushrooms I use in my products come from growers, but Chicken of the Woods and Oyster Mushrooms are a few of my local favorites.
In the 90's I decided to get some formal education on wild edibles and took many courses on medicinal plants from well known herbalists. For a decade or so I was completely obsessed with wild foods and spend countless hours on my bike exploring the local trails. I learned how to make teas and tinctures and meals from the wilds. It is a subject that continues to fascinate me and I love to share stories and experience with other local foragers!