by Max Wilbert / Deep Green Resistance
I’ve been very interested in wild foods for many years, and over the last 8 or 10 have made a more concerted effort to make them a part of my diet—with more success over the last 3 or 4 years.
A few years ago an indigenous woman told me a story of a coal power plant near her community that polluted the river with mercury, and people were advised against eating the fish from this river. One man in the community continued to fish and eat the fish. When people told him to stop, saying “you will get sick,” his response was that “I am not separate from the river. If the river is sick, I am sick.”
People will fight to defend the system that provides them with life. Grocery stores provide life, but it’s a toxic mimic of food—deprived of nutrition and shipped from far away. Even local, organic food is a pale imitation of wild foods in terms of nutrient content. Humans need nutrient-dense foods, not tasteless cardboard imitations. We need food diversity—hundreds of species. We need the movement and physical stimulation that wild food helps us to do—walking, climbing, crouching, picking, wandering, tasting, smelling, sneaking, crawling, running, carrying. Wild foods heal and nourish us in countless ways.
Most importantly, wild foods nourish the soul. There is a big difference between walking down the aisles of a grocery store and casting a fly into a small mountain creek, filling a basket with wild greens from a meadow, gathering acorns from underneath oak trees and processing them in the evening with friends, stalking elk across forested ridges.
There is a big difference between getting your food from a “farm”—even a local one that you have visited—and knowing that this land, right here, right in front of your eyes, under your feet, is where your food will come from. “Farms” are places where the wild is domesticated, subjugated, plowed, destroyed, eliminated.
Can you identify wild edible and medicinal plants? Do you know where they like to live, and why? Do you know the feeding habits of trout, or the season and the weather patterns that will produce a good crop of a certain nut or plant? Do you know where to find good water on your landbase? Do you know how much to harvest of a given species or community, and have you observed that population over years, decades, or even generations to ascertain what is a sustainable harvest?
Wild food leads to connection. Connection leads to love. Love leads to responsibility. Responsibility leads to protectiveness. And we need more of that in the world today.