Remember a few years ago, when dumpster diving had its fifteen minutes of fame amongst those for whom it wasn’t a financial necessity? Its heydey has passed, but the millennia-old instinct for gathering our own sustenance lives on.
Enter urban foraging. While it’s a broad enough term to cover dumpster diving, its general use refers to finding and harvesting edible plants in primarily urban areas. That apple tree in a vacant lot, the neighbor’s walnut tree that always drops its nuts in the street, even the watercress growing in the creek at the edge of town… they’re all (figuratively and literally) ripe for the picking. In many cities, the options are abundant and underappreciated, leaving a bounty of food available for anyone who knows where (and how) to look.
The upswing in urban foraging came hand-in-hand with the foodie emphasis on local produce. Using the whim of the seasons to create fresh, vibrant dishes is a culinary technique that’s gone beyond a trend and into the realm of standard practice. How better to recreate this practice at home than by using the freshest ingredients you can find — those you’ve picked yourself?
This appreciation for natural food sources in cities has grown large enough that certain guerrilla gardeners have taken to planting fruit-bearing trees and annuals alike in neglected urban spaces. Most of the plants suitable for urban foraging are there by chance rather than intention, however.