I RECENTLY ATTENDED a class on sea edibles led by Mac Smith, who presides over that fabulous coffee shop on Front Street in Port Angeles known as the Easy Street Café.
Who knew that friendly guy behind the counter is a lifelong learner and teacher of wild edibles in the Pacific Northwest?
Surrounded by food
In case you didn’t already realize this fact, we are surrounded by terrestrial and marine food forests.
There is food in the woods, in the field edges and on the tidelands — both plant and animal.
Now, I am not suggesting that you go around popping any berry or mushroom into your mouth because there are some plants out there that are in fact lethal.
But if you care to, take some time to learn (use a book, find a teacher, go out with a knowledgeable friend, etc.).
Don’t eat anything unless you know its first and last name, and something about its foliage, habitat and life cycle.
It’s like what you would tell your teenager when it comes to dating.
Take time to learn
But if you take the time to learn (get a book, take photos, find a teacher), there is a feast and a pharmacy out there for foraging.
Make sure you have permission to forage before you go out.
Know whether your place is park, forest or Department of Natural Resources land.
And by the way, if you go out gathering, take care to preserve the resource for the future.
For example, when picking mushrooms, it is important for the future to not damage the mycelium that lives under the surface of the soil.
So tread gently and use a knife to slice off the chanterelles when you find them.
Since returning home from foraging recently, I have been experimenting with seaweed.
Here are a couple of surefire recipes.
Betsy Wharton is a Port Angeles Farmers Market vendor, Washington State University Extension food preservation information assistant and a registered nurse at First Step Family Support Center. More about her pickling enterprise can be found at www.Clallam CanningCompany.com.