I Eat Weeds

It is the little ironies in life that often make the days meaningful. This past July while on an annual canoe trip with 16 other wonderful humans in Frontenac Provincial Park we spied some amazing and abundant chanterelle mushrooms. These beauties foraged by my friend Karl added much needed umami to the canoe trip menu that I had prepared.

Chanterelle mushrooms, foraged during a summer canoe trip in Frontenac Park, await their fate of a warm butter bath.

Driving home after the trip a little exhausted, forlorn, hung over yet exuberant from four days and nights in the forest I was flipping through the park guide when I stumbled upon an interesting ad proclaiming,  “I Eat Weeds”.

The ad was intriguing in it’s simplicity and straightforwardness. Those three words brought back memories of foraging in the near and distant past. Growing up in Labrador we often spent August roaming the hills in search of Blueberries and partridgeberries (otherwise known as lingonberries). Later in my culinary career while working at Fid cuisine in Halifax under chef Denis Johnson we occasionally served purse lane and lambs quarters brought in by local gardeners. On a trip to Newfoundland a few years back I went chanterelle hunting with my good friend and chef de cuisine at Raymond’s Restaurant in St. John’s.

Foraging for our food is such a natural act yet in our modern society the proclamation “I Eat Weeds” seems totally out of step with the direction we are heading in. I contacted Lisa Pedersen through the contact information on her “I Eat Weeds” advertisement to ask her about her efforts to educate folks on how we can all benefit from foraging in our gardens. We agreed we would make a short video explaining what she does. 

Lisa Pedersen and one of her "pet" chickens. Not only are the eggs a happy by product but chickens help keep pests under control in an organic garden.

Pedersen got started with foraging through a you-tube video initially but soon her research brought her to pioneer women who learned to work with what they had around them. Canadian classics like Susanna Moodie’s “Roughing it in the Bush” became foraging research material as Pedersen searched for information on edible species.

Through trial and error Lisa and her husband have developed recipes for the edibles they collect on and around their property at Desert Lake just north of Sydenham. Lisa has organized workshops and informal talks for others who wish to take advantage of this healthy and free food source. 

If you have an interesting food story to share drop me a line, I am always interested in the choices folks make to help secure a healthy food source.