How Foraging Can Lower YOUR Cost of Groceries
Have you felt the "pinch" at the grocery store lately? I am sure you have as we all have unless you don't shop for groceries and have everything you need. But that is not the majority!!
Grocery prices have skyrocketed even though the powers that be tell us inflation has only raised the prices about 10%, yeah sure.... Just the other day I was in Publix and needed some lettuce. Normally a head of green leaf lettuce is around $3. It slowly creeped up to $4 last month and now it is $5!! NOT paying $5 for a head of lettuce that is not even organic. Other greens as well have gone up. And mayo, don't even get me started!! Who pays $7 for a "smaller than a quart" of name brand mayo?? Remember when it was $2.99 just a few months ago? I have been known to say a few choice words under my breath(most of the time)
While I can't help you with the mayo unless you want to make it and it is pretty easy, I CAN help you with the greens and mushrooms. Foraging is totally FREE, why don't more people do it?
Is it scary?
Are you worried about bugs or dirt?
Do you need help with identification?
Do you think other people will think you are weird?
Well this is what I say. YES it can be scary at first but with practice and assistance you can be an expert in no time.
Bugs? Really? Do you know how much dirt, germs, hands touched your produce before you did? THAT wild food is way cleaner and yes you can pick any bugs off or rinse what you find.
Do any of you forage for fruits, nuts and mushrooms? Free food abounds! Seriously you can feed the state of Georgia alone with Kudzu - we got enough of it!!
Just on my property alone, I have wildharvested:
kudzu flowers and leaves
a plethera of mushrooms (chanterelles, morels, milkies, oysters, hen + chicken of the woods, woodears, puffballs etc..)
OH MY WORD....more....
If you are saying, "yeah but I live in an apartment or a subdivision!", you can find some local areas to forage. Old homesteads that are for sale in the area(ask the realtor if you can look around the property or find the owner). Many owners, especially the older generation, would love for you to come pick fruit off the trees rather than let them go to waste and rot on the ground, what the animals don't eat at least. Offer a small gift of a jar of jelly or a baked goodie as a thank you although they may not take it, what it might do is allow you to come back again. ;)
State Parks don't officially allow you to harvest anything but sometimes if you ask the ranger what fruit trees and bushes are in the park, they will let you pick a small basket.
Ask friends! There are some folks that need help with their farm and would be happy to share extras with you in exchange for a bit of work OR host a Pruning Work Day - all those that helped to come back and pick when the trees are busting with fruit.
Ask at the farmers markets - go to your favorite farmer and ask one if he needs a few hours help or if he allows gleaning at the end of the season. To glean is to go back through the crops after the farmer has picked all that he cares to. Farmer Brown gets tired out squash coming out his ears at some point and stops looks for those beauties.
Important - always ask permission if it is private land even if it has a house that is empty, the owners may enjoy going back to pick themselves and don't like to find that people have already been there without asking.
Visit Greene Dean's site - Eat The Weeds, it is incredible resource with edible plant profiles and recipes. Yay!
For those that may not have the opportunity to go forage -
Go to your local fruit stands and ask if they have any bruised or damaged produce that you can feed your goats, chickens, cows etc... Save money on animal feed but you will find some of the produce is JUST FINE for you too!
Before you set out to gather, be mindful of these few points:
Learn your plants. Prior to harvesting, it’s vital that you learn the difference between healthy and harmful plants and herbs.
Location, location, location. You never want to eat things that are harvested along roadsides, waste lands, near polluted streams, or close to conventional farmlands. This is another reason why I love foraging on old homesteads – they are usually far off the beaten path.
Know when to go. A general knowledge of when seasonal foods are ready to harvest is good to have. But if you’re new to the whole thing…go outdoors often. Start to observe and journal your findings. Soon you’ll learn what, when, and where to gather.
Take only enough. Glean only what you know your family will use and leave those plants that are endangered.
Get permission. We have only ever foraged on public lands. So if you are looking elsewhere…be sure you have permission before you harvest from someone’s personal property.
Check out this FREE Foraging Class
Free Introduction to Foraging & Remedies
There is an abundance in nature of food and medicine. Finding edibles in your backyard is easier than you think. Would you like to make simple but effective herbal remedies in your own kitchen?
Reading up on the topic will surely help to build your confidence. The more you know…the more you save! Here are some great books:
Edible Wild Plants For Beginners
By harvesting the wild produce in our local areas, we will surely add variety to our diets while freeing up money in our budgets. Not only will it help our budgets, if you sell jams and jelly - you can MAKE money too! :)
Please share this with a friend. Thank you.