Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Foraging Challenge!

To prepare for my next adventure, the No Limits Nomadic Trip which I am planning to start sometime next year (hopefully) or at the very latest the following spring, I need to work on my foraging skills. And there is no better time for that then spring! So I have started a new challenge: eat at least some foraged food every day and work my way up towards a 100% foraged diet for at least a week.

Up until now I have been practicing with the easy plants, and meanwhile I have been looking around, trying to get myself acquainted with all the types of flora that are out there and trying to distinguish between edibles and inedibles.

The goal
The aim is to live for at least one week (but perhaps longer) on 100% foraged food (including drinking water!), to be completed ideally before the end of July. That gives me enough time to prepare in terms of learning about the plants and what their effects are (what I can eat to get energy, and so on). I want to do this for two reasons. The first is so that I can feel more confident about sustaining myself on the nomadic journey and so that I will give myself that extra push to start learning more about plants already, before it becomes a necessity. This is a much easier way to learn. The second reason is that I want to know what it will do for me on a physical, emotional and cognitive level. I have a feeling that it will lead to many benefits (some expected and some unexpected).

Why another challenge?
Someone asked me recently why I make “everything” into a challenge (which I don't, by the way: only moneyless living started that way and it included some subchallenges like the hitch hiking trip), when it is already rewarding to do on its own.

Well, as we have seen with the Stop Shopping Challenge, this is something that works for me. It gives me the motivation to keep going and go the extra mile at times when things are not so straightforward. I am an all-or-nothing kind of person, which makes me someone who tends to get things done, but also I have difficulty planning things and strategizing. I tend to do things right away but if I can’t start something straight away or complete tasks within a reasonable amount of time, then I tend to put them off (and usually forget about them in the end). Of course I don't want this to happen to my nomadic trip. I have tasted freedom and now I want to take it to the next level. So I will be going on that trip no matter what.
And since you can’t learn foraging with a snap of the fingers (it takes some time and effort), I need to somehow motivate myself to get started. But with the nomadic trip being still quite a way into the future, there is no real rush… or is there? I think it is good to be prepared so that I can leave whenever the opportunity arises (which could be sooner than I think!). Also, spring is the best time to learn these skills and now I can start with the easiest season and work my way up towards the scarcer, more difficult months.
So I am making it into a challenge because it is fun and because I know that it works for me. And I think it could work for anyone who enjoys playing games, because it the challenge element makes it like a game except I am not competing with anyone (which is a game element I don’t care about anyway). However, if that’s something you might enjoy, you could of course do this challenge together with others and see who can complete their week of foraged foods first and with the most variety of plant species (foraged in a responsible way). Oh, and even without the competition element, simply doing things together with others always makes it more fun!
So there are many ways in which we can make learning new things even more fun and interesting, and to make it suit our personalities.

Here’s what’s involved in this challenge:

Phase 1:
On the 15th of May, I started supplementing at least one meal of the day with foraged ingredients. For now I have focused mostly on plants I already knew, such as dandelion, goutweed (bishop's weed), chickweed (the common and water/giant variants), common plantain and shepherd’s purse. Meanwhile I am looking around and trying to identify additional edibles. I also read through my collection of descriptions of edibles regularly so that I will be able to recognize them more easily.

Phase 2:
Know the location of several edibles (preferably including a variety of types of foods, like greens, flowers, nuts/seeds, root vegetables, and so on). Knowing how to source and filter water.

Phase 3:
Plan for one week of intense foraging: Armed with descriptions of edible plants and plenty of time, plus some knowledge on where to find some of the goodies, I will spend at least one week living off of foraged food only. I will document what I eat each day and will publish this on the blog.

That’s it!

Who is joining the Foraging Challenge? :)

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  1. Unfortunately, at this stage of life, it is difficult for me to forage, both because I tend to get stuck in a lot of outdoor places in my wheelchair and because American suburban landscape doesn't lend itself to edibles, though I did find some in a back garden once...I'm trying to decide and research what best to grow in small containers on my screened in porch. Nice blog. Left a note under Dumpster Diving Myths. Good luck with this challenge!

    1. Ah yes, it sounds like back gardens are the best option in your case! Or perhaps trees (in parks and such)? Many of them are edible! Maybe I will do a post on trees sometime. I am getting myself acquainted with them at the moment. Are you in the North or south? I think some North American trees are similar to ours here in Norway. Thanks for stopping by! :)