Summer always creeps up on me and before I know it, I’m sitting around with no solid agenda or plans — jealously scrolling on social. If you didn’t get your act together either to plan the vacation of your dreams, I have an alternative suggestion for you. Go to your nearest park and explore.
Okay, it might not be the exactly the same as sipping wine in Santorini, but hear me out. My family and I recently took a trip to Portland with Buick (to test out the 2018 Enclave and its key features like the in-vehicle wifi which was so helpful along the way and the ionizer which removes bad smells, viruses, germs, pollen from the air) and really had an eye-opening experience when it comes to leaning our own surroundings.
Yes, the car was on point and provided a roomy ride through the Oregon terrain. But, during the trip, I also learned how to dissect my environment in a really new way — through foraging. Yes, through prowling through lots of land, looking for edible plants that are right under your nose. Which, leading up to this moment, had never even considered to try.
When we first arrived in Portland from San Francisco, we were led on a foraging hike by Wild Food Adventures through a city park (maybe it was even a dog park?) and shown the breadth of plants that could be snatched up and easily eaten. We learned the ins and outs of what's okay to eat (and what to avoid at all costs). I'm pretty sure we barely scratched the surface but it was a good starting point for my limited knowledge on the subject matter. One of my favorite foods we picked were the wild sweet peas. They were kind of crunchy, kind of sweet, and really delicious. I don't know if it was the foraging that inspired her, but my greens-averse two-year-old daughter ate them by the handful. That was a sight to see.
After our hour-long hike through the park, I left feeling empowered by the outdoors and the bounty it supplies and wondered why I hadn’t indulged in this activity sooner? Or considered it as a way of life? Maybe urban foraging was my calling? While I may doubt the latter, it definitely has me thinking of how we source food differently.
Shortly after, we headed to In Your Kitchen farm to really see this on a larger scale — an organic farm that supplies Portland restaurants (like the iconic Portland restaurant Higgins) with their fruits and veggies daily. We did a walk through and continued to pick and up chomp on items straight from the ground. Again, it felt invigorating.
My point is, there’s so much beauty in exploring the land that surrounds you in your own backyard and surprising yourself by eating straight from the earth. Here are my three key takeaways and reasons why I think legal (note: you really only want to forage from places where you know it is permitted) foraging (psshh...forget barbecuing) should be your next summer outing.
1. You tune in
The amazing thing about foraging is that it puts you in touch with nature in a unique way. For instance, the sprouting weed you never gave a second glance at, suddenly has meaning and interest. You can actually eat it! You are tuned into what's happening seasonally and the natural activity and growth of plant life around you.
2. You just might surprise yourself
I'll be honest when I first heard we were going foraging, I was a bit intimidated and really didn't know what to expect. Not having a ton of experience or background in horticulture, I wondered how this experience would be approached. Once I really got into the groove of familiarizing myself and identifying plants, I felt good. I also was really surprised at how free it felt to just nip something from the ground and chow down on it.
3. It’s actually a form of self-care
Sure, there is the sustainability factor, and that's huge. However, there is an element of meditation that comes along with foraging. The act feels very solitary in a sense, where you can really just allow your mind to wander while scoping out plant life and breathing in fresh air. It's really no wonder after I felt like I just had a major mediation sessions, relived and grounded.