Let's say you’re hiking up the trail with sweat dripping down your face and a sunburn on your neck, and all that your stomach wants is some nourishment to keep you going strong. But where to find it? You left your snacks at home. Do you dare forage for edible plant life on your own?
Arthur Haines, a research botanist and plant taxonomist with the Delta Institute of Natural History in Maine, says that foraging for wild foods can actually be beneficial for both plants and people — so long as it is done properly.
“Usually, the very first thing that people think is that foraging damages plant populations,” said Haines in a recent phone call. “But smart foraging isn’t detrimental. There are many examples where, if we don’t forage, certain plant species will actually disappear from the site. Conscientious foraging perpetuates these species.”
Haines gave us some tips on how to gather wild foods responsibly the next time you’re outside and in a pinch.