Food is All Around Us
One of the saddest conversations I’ve ever had was with a Valley resident who had sweet oranges growing in her backyard (no, not sour/ornamental ones) but who still bought orange juice in a carton from the grocery store. She had never made the connection: She could have been sipping sweet fresh-squeezed orange juice every morning instead of drinking the reconstituted stuff from Florida. And even better, it would have been “free.”
On the flip side, some of my happiest memories are of foraging with my grandfather during my childhood back in Wisconsin. He would drive the car slowly along the edge of county farm roads looking for wild asparagus in the spring. When he spied the thin spears poking from the earth, he would stop the car and we kids would race out to pick it (always leaving one spear for “next time”). For us, asparagus was a luxury vegetable and we couldn’t believe that it was right there by the side of the road just for the taking.
We felt the same way about the hickory nuts from the big tree at the edge of a farm forest owned by my uncle, and about the blue gills we’d pull splashing from the water with our cane poles at the city park, and about the plums we secretly harvested by jumping over the fence into a neighbor’s yard. All of this “found” food was an unbelievable bounty to be treasured.
Here in our desert state we might think that there isn’t any food to be “found.” And we’d be wrong. Two articles in this issue point us in the right direction:
1. “A-Foraging We Go” highlights two new Southwest edible plant guides and local foraging resources.
2. “Apple Ancestors at Oak Creek Canyon,” in which Gay Chanler tells us about apples grown in a state park.
Also keep your eye on the Edible Phoenix events calendar (ediblephoenix.com/things-do) where we list classes and demonstrations on olive processing, date harvesting, prickly pears and more.
And don’t be shy about asking your neighbor if it’s OK for you to pick those sweet oranges in their yard that just seem to be going to waste.