In the spirit of slow food, I’ve decided to call what I do slow foraging. (Though I also think of it as modern foraging, I’ll discuss what I mean by that another time.) In a way, foraging is the original slow food movement – literally. Foraging for wild foods is slow. It involves a lot of walking, climbing, paddling, wading, stooping, bush-whacking, picking, reaching, bending and so forth (all movement, of course, but movement that can sometimes be tedious and is usually slow and methodical.) I often say that eating wild foods is as local as we can get and, well, foraging is about as slow as we can get. It takes a long time and a lot of patience to collect enough food for a meal! This is why our hunter-gatherer ancestors spent most of their days and most of their lives searching for food. Thank goodness for the rise of the agrarian society!
Over the past 10,000 years or so, we’ve been steadily improving agriculture so we don’t have to spend as much time and energy searching for food (note: I said steadily, not sustainably — another discussion entirely!) As our food-growing skills improved, we had more and more time on our hands so that society, culture, art, and (my favorite) leisure could evolve. And so goes the much-shortened version of how we got to our modern times (another story as well!)
There are about a million things you could do with all that leisure time, but why not embrace the irony and take up foraging? No, I am not proposing that we all become hunter-gatherers again. (Though the idea of walking around the forest all day collecting wild berries sounds much more appealing than sitting in a cubicle eating doughnuts, it is not very realistic.) To me, slow foraging is more of a food hobby or outdoor adventure — it is sort of like the do-it-yourself, free version of extreme dining. Though similar to mountain climbing, slow foraging provides more than a fabulous adventure – you’ll return home with food for your table! So next time you’re wondering what to do with a lazy Saturday afternoon, try a foraging hike. Slow foraging gets you outdoors and exercising and it will turn you on to some of the most abundant, nutritious and free foods you never knew existed. If you know how and where to forage, your slow foraging adventure might actually turn out to be quickly rewarding and delicious! So come out and learn how, where and what to forage in Austin as part of Slow Food Austin’s slow session next Tuesday evening at 7pm. Hope to see you there!