In Search of Baltimore Foragers

Portulaca oleracea, aka purslane

Portulaca oleracea, aka purslane

“Most people have foraged for food at some point,” says Brent Kim, one of the researchers conducting Bountiful Baltimore, a study on Baltimore foraging. “If you’ve picked a wild berry and eaten it, you’ve foraged.”

Modern humans have been foraging for wild plants and fungi for 200,000 years. In comparison, humans have only been farming for about 12,000 years. But while we have a lot of documentation about our agricultural practices, we’re only beginning to understand the behaviors of present-day foragers—the who, what, where, why, and how. Much of what we know Read More >

Wild about Eating Wildly

Eating-Wildly-Ava-ChinBecause of Ava Chin, I now photograph weeds and mushrooms that pop up after a rain. Her memoir, Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal, has inspired me to ask, before I put on gardening gloves and tear something out by its roots, “But can I eat this?”

As the The New York Times’ former “Urban Forager” columnist, Chin has been writing enthusiastically about her hunts for wild edibles for years, and Eating Wildly rounds up those tales and weaves them with personal stories. While we scan meadows and roadsides and trees with her to find her bounties, she tells us about her childhood in Queens, her challenging single mother, her devoted Chinese grandparents, and her plight as a single, 30-something woman for whom it’s much more difficult to uncover a loving partner than, say, prized morel mushrooms. Read More >