Wild Edibles

Stewarding our Earth

May 21, 2019
A daffodil

Paul Tappenden reminds us that we can only take so much from nature, and to be mindful of what exactly we take…

Nature has no garbage dumps. In nature, nothing lasts any longer than it is needed, then it biodegrades to create fuel for further growth. Here is the perfect self-sustaining system that will continue for many more centuries, so long as there is water, air and sunshine. So how did we “creatures of nature” break away from this ideal balance, to become such a destructive force?

Nature supplies us with all our basic needs, so it is our responsibility to respect and protect the environment upon which we are dependent. Wise cultures realize that they are the stewards of the land and harvest responsibility, ensuring that their food sources remain healthy and abundant.

There has been a growth in the popularity of ‘wild foods’ in our society. For responsible foragers, nature can be a wonderful source of nutrient-rich foods and natural medicines.  However, as with every other aspect of human activity, there is abuse—especially when there is a profit motive involved. Entrepreneurs, with financial gain in mind (poachers) have been taking advantage of the growing demand for wild foods and medicinal herbs, such as Ramps and Ginseng. They have been over-harvesting and ravaging natural sources, to the point of threatening their existence. This is becoming the case in many areas where these species were once abundant. That is why I have been teaching primarily about harvesting invasive species, with the “If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Eat ‘em” approach. This way, plants like Mugwort and Japanese Knotweed become our allies, instead of just being garden pests.

Our existence on this planet is dependent on our working in harmony with nature and viewing ourselves as the stewards of our planet. Like the Hippocratic oath, our first principle should be “do no harm”. We should aim to leave no evidence of our presence, or leave a place better than we found it, if we are to live up to our responsibilities as the keepers of our planet.

Ramps growing in spring