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Forage (Noun) [Originates in Middle English around the 14th Century, from Anglo-French, from fuerre, foer ‘fodder, straw’; of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German fuotar ‘food, fodder’]: Food for animals especially when taken by browsing or grazing.

Forage (Verb): For wildlife or livestock, it means browsing or grazing grass or foliage. When pertaining to humans, it refers to seeking out and harvesting edible plants and other plant resources, sometimes on a seasonal basis. Because the meaning implies a randomness and lack of any kind of systematic approach to food production, to call a group of people “foragers” as a cultural designation can have a negative connotation, with the implication that such people are more primitive and less organized than agriculturalists. To the contrary, in many cases, people who are described as “foragers,” or as “hunter-gatherers,” have highly sophisticated food production systems, in which they cultivate and manage food species and habitats in systematic ways, and produce predictable, healthy food supplies. On the other hand, in urbanized society, where most people depend upon commercially produced, marketed foods, individuals who have the knowledge about harvesting wild berries, greens and mushrooms, and who prepare meals using wild-gathered ingredients, are often referred to as foragers, in this case with a positive connotation.

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Wild Harvest

Wild Harvest

Douglas Gayeton/Lexicon of Sustainability

Wild Harvest

Location: Vancouver Harbor Vancouver, BC

The foraging of foods which grow in the wild without cultivation or human assistance

Tyler collects wild seasonal foods for restaurants and chefs across North America. We agree to meet one morning at 9AM so he can show me the bull kelp harvest. I’m two hours late (border problems) so by the time we get to the water the tide has risen dramatically. Instead of casually picking kelp off the rocks, Tyler must dive into the frigid waters (in a steady downpour). I end up buying him lunch.

Bull Kelp grows all along the Pacific coastline ... from Southern California to Canada. It grows year round but the healthiest kelps are found in spring and summer.

The Truffle Dog

The Truffle Dog

Douglas Gayeton for Lexicon of Sustainability

The Truffle Dog

Location: The Truffle Orchard, Willamette Valley Vineyards

Featuring: Jim and Tom, the dog

Why do sustainable truffle hunters use dogs (and pigs) instead of rakes?

1.) Dogs only dig in the precise area where truffles can be found. Indiscriminate raking tears up the substrate around trees, creating irreparable root damage. It may even diminish future harvests.
2.) Truffles have a very pleasing aroma when ripe; hence dogs only find those ready for picking. Indiscriminate hunters often find immature and unripe truffles with little taste.
3. Truffles mature underground and require animals to unearth and disperse them. Raking is a much less effective method of spore dispersal.

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