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Letter from John Adams Re: Foraging

Last week Abigail and I were out picking elderberries. After harvesting all we could find at our place we stopped and asked the neighbor if we could hunt for some on their farm. My neighbor’s’30 year old son, who has spent a lot of time in the woods, sent us to one spot his Dad to another. When we got to the son’s spot we indeed found a huge batch of berries, but they were pokeberries, definitely not what we were looking for! Lesson learned: Make sure you know what you are picking and eating.

It did get me to thinking about variety in our diet if the “event” happens. At the Adams house we currently supplement our diet with what we can find in the wild. blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, elderberries, all make great cobbler and jelly. We also harvest walnuts, hickory nuts morel mushrooms, ramps, dandelion for greens and gravy, nettles, clover, and violets for greens. All these are seasonal of course but make a pleasant break in our current fare. If someone was on a constant diet of wheat and beans the ability to identify and cook these wild plants would be a godsend for the palate, and a nutritional gold mine. Naturally different places will have different “wild fare” that will be out there to harvest. Now is the time to be learning what nature is providing in your own part of the world. This web site [1] has over 187,000 recipes, basically if you can kill it or pick it, you will find a way to cook it here.

I would caution anyone that is new to foraging to find someone that is very knowledgeable with the plants in their immediate area. Someone that has picked their own plants and eaten them too! Don’t get started with someone like my neighbor’s son, who thought he knew what he was talking about but had never eaten his own harvest! – John and Abigail Adams