Forage in the forest for food? You’ll save money — and get happy – New Brunswick
Foraging the forest floor for food is a growing trend, but it is a family tradition going back at least three generations for one Moncton, N.B., woman.
“Some of my first memories is toddling around in the backyard picking mushrooms,” said Jessika Gauvin, president of the MycoNB Society and the owner of Enchanted Mushroom Forest, a wild foraging tour company.
She calls it an adult scavenger hunting and, given the price of groceries these days, she says more people are on the hunt for free food.
“It’s really not as challenging as you might think, and there is food everywhere,” Gauvin said.
She said most people don’t know what to look for, which is why she offers educational tours.
Iva Jean Le-Fave, Gauvin’s grandmother, said most people don’t realize how man edible food plant they can find in the forests close to their homes. “They look at it and they see weeds. I see medicine. I see food.”
She said she will actually hit the woods before the grocery aisle. “I will use my greens before I go buy greens in the store, as a matter of fact. I freeze it, ” Le-Fave said.
Gauvin said there are hundreds of mushrooms and greens that grow naturally in Canadian forests—stinging nettles, for example— that are not only free but also packed with nutrients.
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“(Stinging nettle) has multiple times the nutrients of grocery greens like spinach,” she said.
But educating yourself before you put anything in your mouth is critical.
“We do have a lot of deadly plants,” Gauvin said. “You look in your books, you look on the internet, you check with a human person. That is the most important rule,” to be sure what you eat doesn’t also kill you, she said.
But if done safely, forest foraging offers something else that is priceless and cannot be found in a grocery store, Gauvin said.
“There is actually a compound that comes from the forest floor, from the decomposing leaves, that has been shown to increase the levels of happy brain chemicals in your brain.”
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