Postcard from FoodCon

Friday’s FoodCon was a thrill. I haven’t heard the final tally of attendees, but there was a steady stream of bright-eyed folks. I met so many people with interesting stories about foraging (which, as I explained to one non-native English speaker, is like hunting, only for plants).

Swapping foraging stories with a foodcon attendee

Swapping foraging stories with a foodcon attendee

People spoke of making elderberry syrup for winter colds and congestion, of becoming more accustomed to the taste of bitter greens to the point of craving them, and of eating oxalis as kids.

One little girl said she likes to eat clover petals, which brought back my own flower-eating past: My friends and I used to pick the blooms off my dad’s tall phlox and suck the nectar, pretending it was a special elixir.

Most of my exhibit consisted of weeds picked that morning. All are available in the typical urban yard or garden. “If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em,” was my line.

Trees are a source of unexpected nutrition too: Even seasoned foragers were surprised to learn that basswood tree leaves are great in salads.

Trees are a source of unexpected nutrition too: Even seasoned foragers were surprised to learn that basswood tree leaves are great in salads.

I told the uninitiated to start by topping a salad with the tangy, tender oxalis, which is prevalent in urban yards. Then see if, like me, they don’t get completely hooked on picking stuff from their yards to bring in to the dinner table.

Wet tablecloth

My tablecloth got all wet after an early gust of wind blew a few cups over. But it didn’t matter: check that wilty salad!

Japanese wineberries (at the right edge of the above photo) were the star of the show. Though one website calls this bramble fruit a “bio-bully” for being invasive, the berries are dazzling little gems that are sweeter than should be legal. (Last year I learned the identity of this mysterious bramble I’d found just as the buds were forming. I was anticipating some happy picking, then they perished in the drought. This year: bountiful harvest.)

Some were amazed that you can actually eat mulberries, asking incredulously, “What do you do with them?” while others were right there with me on the “nature’s candy” point.

A friend and I had biked around the neighborhood questing for these berries.

A friend and I had biked around the neighborhood questing for these berries.

Things I learned: There’s a “Poke Salad Annie” song, and you can eat milkweed flowers, and four hours of talking makes one hoarse.

The solar cooker got lots of interest too, though generally more as a novelty from what I could gather (my partner Judy fielded most of those questions, bless her).

As far as the other exhibitors, I was able to make a quick circuit late in the evening and talk to the folks from Wolf-Beach Farm, as well as friends at the “dumpster diving/dumpster dining” booth and the “making easy meals in 5 minutes” table. (These were all people I had referred to the organizer.)

I also found a couple standouts in the resilience arena. I’ll report on them in an upcoming post. Some great innovators there, helping people break their dependence on a shaky centralized food system that is wreaking havoc on both planetary and personal health.

3 thoughts on “Postcard from FoodCon

  1. Pingback: Releasing and Emerging | Shawndra Miller

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