Foraging In Urban Areas

Reader Contribution by Anna Twitto
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One of the things I loved most about living in a rural area was the foraging – there were practically endless possibilities to pick up something edible, in just about any season. Now that we have moved to the outskirts of a small town, it seems we are more limited in that sense.

Never fear, however. Even if you live in an urban area, you still have many chances to pick up edible goodies, especially during the lush spring season. Greens, fruits, berries, and mushrooms (exercise extreme caution with those last ones) await you. 

Apart from the obvious notion of making sure that whatever you are picking up isn’t actually toxic in itself, one big issue about foraging in urban areas is the pollution. Car exhaust fumes, sewage, industrial toxins, and dog poo all present much more frequent health hazards than out there in the boonies. 

When spring rolls around and you see everything covered with tender young greens, make sure you don’t pick your dandelions and wild mustard close to the roadside. Take a few steps away from the road to pick comparatively cleaner plants. 

Don’t be tempted to pick plants that grow next to water ditches, no matter how lush and green they seem to be, unless you are absolutely sure the ditch directs nothing but clean rainwater. Similarly, stay away from industrial zones. 

City parks may be good places to find free edibles. Many town administrations plant fruit-bearing trees for decorative purposes but never bother to pick the fruit. In our warmer region, these are usually olives and citrus fruit trees, pomegranates, grape vines, and even passionfruit. In addition, we often stumble upon old trees such as figs and carobs, which the city landscapers were wise enough to leave untouched. 

Another place to “forage” may be in your neighbors’ yards (only with permission, of course!). Many of our neighbors have lived in the area for decades, and their fruit trees have grown huge and produce far more than they can consume. We got sackfuls of grapefruits, lemons, and oranges, which we were very grateful for. 

Wherever you live, you can almost always vary your diet by healthy and delicious food that does not come from the supermarket. 

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna, her husband, and their four children live on the outskirts of a small town in northern Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna’s books are on her Author PageConnect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blogRead all Anna’s Mother Earth News posts here.

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