Monday, September 27, 2010

Gathering and Harvesting-Food Alternatives

I've really gotten into the wild edibles, both gathering and harvesting for long term use.
The acorn has been foremost in this hobby, replacing mushrooms as a viable, safe wild food. The problem with mushrooms is that so many are poisonous in even small quantities. Plus mushrooms just don't have enough calories to merit the risks involved.
Acorns, on the other hand, have both fat and protein. One ounce of raw acorns have 7 grams of fat. Serious stuff.
for recipes, processing tips, and ongoing reviews of food stuffs.
When I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail I ate wild onions, nettles (cook first to remove the stickers) berries and tasted some wild grasses which seemed way out of control. There were tons of wild blackberries, just dripping with goodness on the way into Seiad Valley. I wondered that the locals weren't picking them for jam.

Coming around the bend early one morning on the Eagles Creek trail just south of Cascade Lock, I had my closest bear encounter ever. I never saw the bear family while I was munching berries along the narrow trail bordered by a cliff and a mountain, until the cub brushed my pack on its way up a tree. Momma bear stood upon her hind legs, huffing and threatening as I backed away, calling to my partner a warning.
Things were tense while Rainmaker continued into the fray, and momma bear wanted no part of him. She dropped to all fours and galloped down the steep slope, baby following soon afterward.

Eventually, we just ate berries, mostly because there isn't time to gather food along the way. Miles are important if a person wants to finish before snow. But, once we got to the Cascades in northern Washington, and only a few more weeks remained, we enjoyed the berries in season. I could always tell when Paw Bunion was ahead of us: all the berries were gone.

The Appalachian Trail had nice berries too, but there were many more hikers around to compete with the bounty. Towns are much closer, and there are hostels, trail magic and goodies of all sorts in trail shelters left by well meaning day hikers.

Sometimes people will ask if you hike and live off the land. Thinking the earth has so much to offer, they imagine while walking through the woods it would be a natural approach.
But, if you do much wild edibles , you know it actually takes time and energy, and much of the time not enough calories are available.

For now, its a great hobby, a winter past time.

No comments:

Post a Comment