2020 Foraging Year in Review

What an interesting year 2020 was, in so many ways! Like many authors this first week of January, I am reflecting on the crazy year which finally ended.

I won’t recap all my foraging successes and failures (there are 50-odd weekly posts you can re-read). Instead, this post focuses on overall trends.

On the positive side, I learned a lot of new recipes, and upgraded how I shared them with you, my readers. My photography and recipe writing have leveled up dramatically over the past year – although the upgraded WordPress plan which allows recipe plug-ins still seems like overkill!

I discovered new local wild foods, and recorded my first video to help others learn more about the abundance surrounding us in our landscape. And hey, we finally found one whole morel mushroom!

One lonely morel mushroom with text reading "2020 Foraging Year in Review"

I also cautiously branched out into the world of wild medicines. I am much more hesitant in this arena because I feel the difference between “medicine” and “poison” sometimes only comes down to the dosage! So particularly for internally-taken concoctions, I stuck to well-known items (like elderberry and turkey tail for immune support, for instance).

Unfortunately, as important as foraging is to me (as a key component of leaner, lower-energy living), it still feels like a hobby, rather than an integral part of our daily existence. Despite everything new I’ve learned, and all the additional recipes, wild foods only play a significant role in our diet about – you guessed it – once a week. Sometimes I couldn’t find enough of the wild ingredient. Other times, the recipes I discovered and tried making, weren’t the sort of things we ate regularly, like desserts (chiffon pie) or appetizers / hors d’oeuvres (stuffed milkweed pods). Or I royally screwed up the recipe, like the elderflower and milkweed cordials back in the spring! Food we had locally in abundance – spring poke, for example – wouldn’t take long for everyone to grow sick of eating.

I also didn’t range as far as I would have liked during 2020, primarily due to travel restrictions and concerns with COVID-19. We don’t have our own woods, unfortunately, so my only unfettered access to “wilderness” is my own not-terribly-wild yard. And there are only but so many blog posts about dandelions, chickweed and garlic mustard I can write!

In 2021, I hope to improve on two fronts. First, I want to incorporate foraging and wild foods as an everyday part of my existence. Second – almost as important – I need to enhance how I share the experience with my audience, with better photos and more videos. I would love to teach an in-person class (or several), but with COVID metrics steadily worsening in my area I’m not holding my breath for that one! And maybe, just maybe, this will be the year I finally get my own property to really take my foraging to the next level!

What were your foraging successes or failures in 2020, and what do you hope for 2021?

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