FORAGING: Statement by The Growing Project
As a practicing forager and organizer of foraging education through the nonprofit The Growing Project (TGP), I would like to highlight some of the pros of the ancient tradition and some of the false impressions and fears stated by the city in their response to last week’s foraging article. This response is not meant to further polarize the two sides, as last week’s articles did, but help them understand each other and encourage transparent communication, foraging education, and help debunk some of the assumptions around the practice.
Here are some of the pros of foraging:
- Foraging offers an alternative approach to addressing some of the logistical and philosophical problems in our broken food system.
- Foraged foods can contain 10 to 100 times greater nutritional value than conventional food found in the grocery store.
- Foraging provides the practitioner with a higher knowledge of their food while the origins and harmful effects of processed foods remains obscured.
- A public which forages is more likely to develop a relationship with nature that generates an environmental stewardship ethic.
- Foraging targets the responsible removal of “invasive weeds”.
Some of the assumptions we wish to clarify:
- Safety and best practices are always highlighted by Fort Collins foraging advocates at any foraging event.
- Foraging does not encourage a massive removal of plants in natural areas. Foraging culture promotes respect for nature, leaving plenty of plants for other humans and critters to enjoy.
- By offering their knowledge, TGP, Nic Mouton, and Rico Lighthouse are developing a safe and responsible culture for foragers in this city. Without them, people would not give up foraging; they just might not be capable of doing it as safely.
- While the city advocates for interested foragers to become part of a community garden instead, with the long waitlist for city community gardens and other factors including lack of time, money, space, and know-how, local food fans are sometimes limited in their opportunities to obtain nutritious foods. We highly encourage the city to streamline and speed up the process to install city community gardens as well as better support local nonprofits that work towards making healthy, local foods, accessible to all income levels.
Foraging is not a black and white issue. Like anything that makes Fort Collins great, such as bikes, beers, and outdoor activity, it can cause harm when not practiced responsibly. This is why we ask the city to not fear the unknown or the woes of a litigious society but embrace the knowledge and enthusiasm of its citizens. We ask you to view ourselves as part of nature rather than outside of it, take a walk in the woods with foraging experts, and think hard about the environmental ethics and hypocrisy of how we manage our natural areas. We sincerely ask the city to examine their concerns about foragers consuming dangerous pesticides sprayed by the city through their integrated pest management strategy when there seems to be no concern for its citizens and local critters that play, run, and bike through those very poisons on a regular basis. Working together to educate the public, providing innovative alternatives to food sovereignty and creating healthy and safe natural spaces for all creatures are goals that we can all agree can turn this harmfully framed issue into a collaborative solution.
The Growing Project
Please read the original articles published in The Coloradoan. Fort Collins Foragers Bring Wild Eats to the Table and Officials Warn about Foraging on Fort Collins Lands.