May 2, 2018: An Open Letter to Families, Farmers, Restaurants, Grocery Stores, and Educators
by Lynn Landes, Founder, www.WildFoodies.org
Wild Food deserves a place of honor at our kitchen table, farmers’ markets, grocery stores, restaurants, and schools. Why? Because “wild food” is nature's food and completely sustainable - it does not require human intervention for its survival. Plus, wild food is a hot commodity gaining fast in popularity!
“Re-Wilding” is a growing movement around the world. The re-wilding movement recognizes the importance of growing wild foods in a natural setting and including them in our meals. Consuming wild foods also adds diversity and nutrition to our diet. Many plants that we call “weeds” are a vital source of food, fiber, and medicine. And more importantly, wild foods can make the difference between life or death in times of natural or man-made disasters.
Wild food constitutes an important second or co-harvest for farmers, which adds to their efficiency, productivity, and income. For many farmers, the number one “weed”, is Amaranth (a.k.a., pigweed). Yet Amaranth is also a “superfood” consumed by millions around the world as a tasty leafy vegetable and a seed grain. Purslane, Patience Dock, and Lamb’s Quarters also top the list of wild food for foragers to gather. Sadly, most farmers throw them out, missing out on a bumper crop of delicious delectables and pricey produce.
This Spring at the ritzy Rittenhouse Square Farmers’ Market in Philadelphia, renowned forager David Siller and his staff sell wild edibles like hotcakes, including Stinging Nettle, Fiddleheads, Garlic Mustard, and Ramps. And the public is showing phenomenal support.
The same could be said for The Wild Foodies of Philadelphia, a meetup group that I formed in 2010. Today we have over 3,800 wild members. Wild foodies are a very enthusiastic group who come from both the left and the right of the political spectrum to learn more about the food right under our feet. They all value what nature can provide and are somewhat distrustful of government and the marketplace. And they have a point.
To ignore wild food is to turn our backs on Mother Nature and common sense. Traditional agriculture, with its monoculture and rows of crops, invites disease and pests and is not sustainable. Whereas, your typical empty lot on any city is chock full of wild foods growing with wild abandon. That-right-there should tell us something.
We need wild foods to be recognized and honored for the priceless gift they are to humanity. Wild foods should be taught in our schools, sold in stores, served in restaurants, and celebrated for their nutrition and resilience. To that end, The Wild Foodies of Philly host a website full of resource information, free field guides, and sage advice. We invite the public to visit our website and join our free meetup group. Munch on! With care!