Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hiking and Foraging

I went for a hike yesterday with my friend Jenn and our dogs.  We went to the Catalina State Park and hiked along the Romero Canyon Loop Trail.  We wanted to hike up to Romero Pools, but dogs are not allowed into the Pusch Ridge Wilderness even though there have been no bighorn sheep in the area for years, which is unfortunate.

While hiking I noticed a lot of edibles.  This is the season for Saguaro fruit, and Jenn and I knocked one down and enjoyed the somewhat bland (the fruit wasn't entirely ripe) goop inside.  I enjoy trying things like that, and it was Jenn's first time eating cactus fruit knocked right off the plant, so it was fun introducing her to something, even though her reaction to it was neutral.  We also saw some canyon grapes that were not quite ripe.  I tried one and it was rather bitter and mostly seed.  In another couple of weeks it might be worth it to go up a couple of canyons where I know there are a lot of canyon grapes and see if I can beat the birds to some ripe ones.

Seeing all of the edible stuff out there on this hike made me remember that one of the projects I would like to pursue is learning all I can about the edible plants in my area.  The book I am linking to on the left is the current authority on edible plants in the Sonoran Desert, and is something I hope to pick up as soon as I can afford to do so.

Once I pick it up, I'd like to try to learn about one or two new edible plants every week, and go out on the weekends to forage for them when their produce is in season.  It would be interesting to find out just how much food I can find out here in the desert, which is much more lush than most people would think.  I also think this "foraging training" will be helpful with developing my mindset for homesteading, and looking at how nature places and produces food in the wild so I can integrate those systems into my land design.

What are your thoughts on foraging?  Is it something you try to learn about as well, or something you even incorporate into your diet on a regular basis?  What are plants are good for foraging in your area.  Please share your thoughts in the comments, and of course, thanks for reading!

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