Forest Foraging...for fun and health!
by Mary Louise;Town Jaqua, Health Minister


It used to be that there were no roadside food stands,
supermarkets, restaurants or convenience stores.
When you were hungry, you went out into the great
outdoors and found something to eat. You picked
greens, berries, and fruit that grew in fields, on bushes,
in marshes, and on trees. Likewise, when you were
sick, you sought remedies that nature provided.
Offerings from the land thus became the source for
health and survival for many cultures throughout the

While finding and harvesting food from the great
outdoors may not be popular much less practiced by
the general public today, increasing numbers of people
are 'getting back to nature' and becoming 'foragers,' i.e.
people who hunt for wild edibles that grow in fields,
forests, streams, and on trees.

Since learning about foraging and its benefits many
years ago, this Health Minister has become an avid
'food finder.' It is no secret that my enthusiasm for
finding nutritious 'free range food' is a way of life for
me. The progression from organic gardening to
foraging was natural for me. It was also practical in
terms of convenience and economics. After all, food
that grows wild is free!

With the first sign of spring, therefore, I can be seen
roaming our over-grown 'wild' backyard and local fields
in search of baby greens, herbs, medicinal plants,
berries, and assorted roots and shoots, all of which
make their way into meals and the medicine chest.

Summer sojourns at our ministry cottage afford yet
another foraging opportunity as I walk the woods
and camp roads to see what healthy fare I can find.
I call this venture my 'summer sport.' While most
people are boating, swimming, water skiing, tubing,
and jogging, I saunter in search of wild edibles. To
on-lookers, I might appear as the Sherlock Holmes
of the forest. Nevertheless, I regard my summer
foraging as a fun and healthy experience.

This year my forest-finds largely focused on
mushrooms. While I do not eat mushrooms, I do
enjoy finding, inspecting, and identifying these
natural wonders. From what I gathered (literally)
it looked to be an exceptional year for mushrooms
which I found surprising since it was an unusually
dry summer in Maine. No matter where I walked,
mushrooms of assorted varieties were growing

Thus my summer became a healthy, up-close-and-
personal adventure as I 'shroomed' the woods and
cottage roads. With camera in hand and foraging
tools at my side, I traipsed the land in search of new finds.
I looked, I poked, and I picked. It was an exercise that
turned out to be an education of many sorts.

This being said, follow me as I share highlights of
my forest foraging adventures this summer.

Let's go...