Monday, April 5, 2010

How Not to Die While Foraging

Foraging for edible plants in Mississippi can be rewarding but dangerous. Here are some steps we follow to be safe.

Step 1: Don't bring a gun (this is generally a good idea anytime).

Step 2: Be absolutely sure of the identification of your edibles before you sink your teeth into them.

Ideally, you'll want to check your potential food source with multiple references including but not limited to
  1. plant/mushroom reference books or
  2. an expert or intelligent botanist or mycologist.
If you can't find an expert or intelligent scientist, at least seek help from a nubile and flexible scientist [you can find our contact information in the side bar (for research purposes only)]. Good wild edibles books will mention which poisonous species resemble the one you are contemplating devouring. Seriously though, don't just eat any damn thing, but I think you get the point. Make sure of your identification before scarfing down. Different species of mushrooms can look very similar to each other so don't rush into eating things. Pick a few easily found and identified plants and mushrooms for the season and focus on foraging for them. Next year, you'll be comfortably, carefully, and confidently adding a few more.

Step 3: Be sure to prepare the plant correctly, don't eat any poisonous parts, and eat it at the right time of the year.

If you were stuck in the ground, you wouldn't just let any ol' idiot with shorts and tall socks come and rip you out of the ground and bite into your skull. You would produce poisonous compounds to protect yourself. I know I would. Likewise, plants and fungi are extraordinary producers of secondary metabolites (compounds produced for certain ecological—often defensive–purposes).

Plant preparation
Some plants or fungi are always deadly when eaten, but some of their associated chemicals may become deactivated through food prep such as boiling, frying, etc. We subscribe to the philosophy that preparation is just as important as identification. Follow the instructions that your books say–we'll do the same.

Poisonous parts
Some plants can be delicious, nutritious, and ambitious on one part, but deadly on another. That's what killed Chris McCandless. No bananas. Only eat the correct parts of the plant that you have identified beyond a shadow of a doubt and cooked perfectly according to legitimate instructions (we make no claim to the legitimacy of our instructions we write except that we lived long enough to make a post about our meal).

Step 4: Never eat any plant, animal, or fungus ever. Instead, subsist entirely on Swiss Cake Rolls.

Abstinence is the surest way to prevent pregnancy and STDs, but wouldn't it more fun to get educated and experiment? You would be totally safe to avoid any edible plants you find, but it is much more fulfilling to learn and try new foods from nature's bounty. It isn't risk-taking if you actually take the time to learn about the plant and read a few entries about it from several books—that's called learning. Plus, Swiss Cake Rolls will kill you anyway.

Step 5: Don't bring a gun (I don't think this can be stressed enough!)

Be careful.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Foraging Time!

Along with beautiful the beautiful warm weather in Mississippi comes the delicacies of the woods. Spring brings new beginings and new hobbies. Follow Kris and Jeff as these beginners start to learn and share how to identify and prepare the edible plants of Mississippi!
Are you sick and tired of the same foie gras for dinner and chocolate ganache for desert? Maybe the waitress down at your favorite Sizzler who you've been eyein' up turns out to be a man and you feel like you'll never go back? Perhaps you've just got a bad case of Prader-Willi and are looking for a source of nourishment?

We at Forage Mississippi feel that no one should be left wanting when there is a sea of green at our doorsteps. If only we would step outside and take the time to look around.