Monday, April 28, 2008

Doc Weed: Foraging on the Rise

While I was going crazy for dandelions this past month, you might have noticed that I referenced a certain Dr. Peter Gail in several posts, such as this one and this one. Gail, who also goes by Doc Weed, is the president of the Defenders of Dandelions and proprietor of Goosefoot Acres in Cleveland, Ohio, selling his books and DandyBlend coffee substitute. I first came across Gail in my search for dandelion recipes. His Dandelion Celebration proved a treasure trove of information on how to harvest and cook the common backyard weed.

Recently Gail has been part of a discussion preoccupying members of the Forage Ahead Yahoo group: Is interest in foraging increasing? The blog Cincinnati Locavore initially posed the question, receiving responses from some professional foragers (i.e. those who teach foraging workshops and lead field trips) including "Wildman" Steve Brill and Leda Meredith of Leda's Urban Homestead. Both Brill and Meredith reported a recent increase in interest, with classes and field trips filling. Now Gail has thrown his hat in the ring with a post on his blog.

Quote: I am finding far more interest in my workshops now than has been the case since 1998 and 1999, when people were responding to the Y2K scare, and were coming out in droves for my classes.

I've always focused on the fun and educational value of foraging—the time spent in the outdoors learning how to identify, harvest, and cook wild edibles. But more and more I keep hearing how this "forgotten skill" will be in demand in the not-so-distant future as we are faced with escalating energy costs, food shortages, and possibly large scale societal changes in a post-oil world. What do you think?


Mungo said...

I was foraging at work the other day without noticing it, and an co-worker pointed it out. Woops!

Great site - am exploring it now - thanks!



valereee said...

I think it's a natural offshoot of the local eating movement. It's no-till, organic, and until it becomes too popular, sustainable.

Langdon Cook said...

Mungo - funny story. Not everyone is ready for us foragers and what we do. But who knows? Give it a few more years and the audience might be more receptive.

Val - you raise an interesting point: foraging is not sustainable on a wide-scale basis...we gave up that option 10,000 years ago with our Faustian agricultural bargain.