The other day, I stumbled upon the Food Forward conference. I was browsing through Twitter (as I often am doing) and noticed that quite a few of the people that I follow were tweeting with hashtag #foodfwd. At first I thought that it was another Twitter campaign to educate the consumer about where their food comes from (check out #OpenTheBarns for a recent popular hashtag used for exactly that). After exploring the #foodfwd hashtag though, I learned that the Food Forward Conference was put on by Planet Forward, a company that develops tech to improve sustainability and help combat climate change.
The conference was focusing on sustainability and education in agriculture and food production. One of the topics that was brought up that piqued my interest was hunting and foraging and their role in sustainability. I ended up engaging in a Twitter conversation with a vegetable farmer in Pennsylvania. She told me that she allows hunters to come onto her property to hunt deer. Without these hunters controlling the population, the deer would have eaten her vegetables and her entire crop would be gone. I learned that part of keeping her farming practices sustainable – making sure she has enough veggies to sell as well as keep her farm and household running smoothly – meant that allowing others to hunt on her property was necessary. With a huge deer population in Pennsylvania, hunting deer doesn’t have a detrimental impact. Hunting is regulated through tags and licenses, which ensures the hunters don’t accidentally cull the population to the point of no return. A delicate balance between the hunters, the farmers, and the deer has been found.
Hunting and foraging food can be more than just keeping away pests. In a lot of cultures, especially First Nations in Canada, hunting for food is a part of everyday life. Hunting is a part of the culture, and providing for the family by hunting local wildlife is normal. From an outside viewpoint, this seems like a novel idea – one that must be carefully monitored to ensure it’s done sustainably. To those that are a part of these hunting cultures, it’s always been a way of life and living. Foraging can also be a part of these cultures, and foraging often goes hand in hand with hunting. Being able to live off the land is inherently sustainable, and provides a strong connection to your food. More and more people are realizing this and foraging has become incredibly popular.
I believe that being able to live off the land in your natural surroundings is an incredible skill to have, and it brings you much closer to your food. Working for your food, whether it be hunting or foraging, makes you appreciate it that much more. Foraging for food has become popular with environmentalists and sustainable enthusiasts, but we must be cautious to avoid doing more harm than good. The point of hunting and foraging for your food is to lead a sustainable lifestyle. Like the deer in Pennsylvania, it’s easy to control how many people are hunting in one area at a time. With foraging, however, it isn’t controlled. When foraging for food, people must be very cautious to avoid destroying the native population of a plant. Harvesting from the same area and depleting the supply of a single plant can wreak havoc on the surrounding ecosystem. It’s all about balance, and this also applies to foraging. Forage from many different areas, and never just one plant at a time. Besides, this makes your meal more interesting anyways!
Emma — The Suburban Aggie
PS, for the next four months I’ll posting from the most beautiful place in the world – my camp, which has limited internet access. I’ll try my best to keep up my weekly posts, but I might not always get something set up in my queue each week. Fear not – I’m still blogging!