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July 24, 2008

Weed Wacky: Foraging in Vermont

Berry picking in Tanzania.

by Sara Tucker

I was brought up to eat what's on my plate, so when some Hadzabe bow hunters once offered me a bite of their roasted bushbaby, I accepted. Dessert was bee larvae. But to be honest, when it comes to wild food, I prefer plants. That's why I was so excited to learn that in Vermont, where I live now, there's a school where you can learn all about edible wild plants from expert foragers. Vermonters are very big on this type of food, which is nutritious, plentiful, and free. Dandelions, fiddleheads, milkweed, stuff like that. Plus, foraging is a nice excuse for a walk, which is what I had been doing with my Hadzabe friends--enjoying the scenery. (The bushbaby was an unexpected extra.) Combining slow food with slow travel makes obvious sense, so on Friday I plan to mosey up to South Woodbury, Vermont, to check out this place. I'll let you know what I find. If you're in Vermont this summer, you might see what's on the menu at one of my favorite restaurants, Hen of the Wood, which is named after a wild mushroom. The restaurant is in a converted grist mill in Waterbury, and the last time I was there, I ate wild leeks for the first time. They were tastier than bushbaby, and I wasn't haunted by their little faces and big eyes.

Further reading:
* Wisdom of the Herbs School Web site.
* Vermont foragers Nova Kim and Les Hook will teach a workshop at Shelburne Farms on August 3.
* These plants are NOT food.
* New York City's best-known forager was once arrested for eating a dandelion.
* Tennessee's Smoky Mountain Field School hosts edible plant workshops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


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