Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Fruit Gatherer

Each season, you can gather edible plants, fruits, and nuts in the wild—fiddlehead ferns, dandelions, wild asparagus, and grape leaves, various wild berries, mushrooms (careful!), chestnuts and wild peas. (If you don't know what things are, or how to prepare them, take a field guide to edible plants with you on your foraging trips.) Visit a pick-your-own orchard or farm to gather strawberries, blueberries, corn, or pumpkins. Make the "harvest" a social event by taking along kids or friends. Another variation is to shop without a list and plan a meal from what looks good at the market that day.

Searching for food in the wild prevents the brain from using the easy way out, and hones its ability to make fine discriminations. Is that round green thing a fiddlehead fern (good) or a skunk cabbage sprout (bad)? Without bins, packages, and labels, your brain is forced to pay attention to every cue available in the natural environment.

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