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Many generations of rural Americans grew up collecting nuts and berries as a family tradition. At the appropriate times of the year, they would go collect black walnuts, hickory nuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, blackberries, elderberries, wild strawberries, blueberries, cherries, mulberries, apples, grapes and other bounty from the forest. These are some of the foods that people from just a few generations ago took for granted.

Foraging has enjoyed increased interest as more and more people are realizing the great value in being able to identify feral foods that are still essentially free for the picking. When North America was exclusively Native American territory, just about every food plant was carefully exploited. Nuts, berries, greens, flowers, roots – all were used and surplus was dried for later consumption.

Today, people take to the woods and backyards in search of wild nuts and berries for many reasons. Most folks get hooked on the idea that you can just go outside, commune with nature in the way that’s best for you, and then find a snack or lunch. Food is everywhere. When I began learning how to forage at around age 12, it seemed terribly exciting to know how to find food that was always there, that Native Americans had known about and used for millennia. It was like peeling back a mysterious fog and penetrating into the deep past for a skill that would be with me forever in this modern world.

Of course, the collection and use of wild edibles has gained popularity in the last few decades because more people are aware of the fragility of our modern methods of agriculture, not to mention all the support systems that get food from the farm to your local store. It makes practical sense to learn about local wild plants, and it also makes sense to grow at least a little of your own food.

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About American Survival Guide

American Survival Guide January 2020,