Simple guide to urban foraging
Have you ever picked some berries from a shrub on the sidewalk? Or apples from that street near your house? Then you have foraged before.
Foraging is the name given to the search for food in the wild - but there's no need to go to the countryside, you can find a lot in your city. Foraging is a great way to explore the city through different eyes. Be sure to stick to these tips to forage safely.
1. Know your edible plants
Know exactly what to pick and eat. There are multiple edible plants to be found in the city, but there are many toxic and harmful ones too. So be sure to identify the plant you are picking and don't pick endangered species.
Some of the edible plants you can find around Toronto include dandelions, mulberries, apples, crab apples, cherries, and Saskatoon berry.
If you are not sure about something, try researching it or using a plant identification app! If you find that it is too tricky to identify a certain plant, don't eat it. Once the plant has been identified as edible, try a small amount first.
2. Know where to pick from
Know your spots! Don't pick from a private area without permission. Even certain parks might have restrictions – so know the regulations of your area before picking. In Toronto, it is prohibited to remove or pick from plants in public parks, ravines and forests.
While studies found that picks from urban areas are safe to eat (Berlin study, Boston study), hardly anyone would enjoy a meal seasoned with exhaust fumes or dog pee. So find spots away from high traffic areas. Also pay attention to any signs of pesticide and herbicide use. Examine the area well before picking anything.
3. Leave plenty for others
Free food is very appealing but make it a habit to leave plenty for other people and animals. Pick no more than what you will eat.
Prepare a foraged meal for your loved ones and tell them the story of how you picked the food, where you found it, etc. This way you might inspire others to start foraging and even learn new places to pick food from!
If you are interested in learning more about urban foraging, we recommend Alexis Nikole content on her Instagram page @blackforager.
And if you live in Toronto, check out Not Far from the Tree to join this fruit-picking group.