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Warning — Foragers Ahead

CATEGORY: In the News |
On Jun 4, 2016

DSC04690Recently an article in the online Huffington Post discussed some of the ongoing problems related to foraging plants in California wild lands and across the country. And, for those who are unaware, Griffith Park is considered one of the “wild lands” in Southern California.

But why is this even an issue, you might ask?

Apparently, foraging is the latest in food trends. However, there are problems with going onto wild lands in search of some of these plants, leaves, and berries. Lisa Novak with the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants asks “Do foragers know that up to 90% of all leaf-eating insect species, such as caterpillars of butterflies, can eat only native plants? Do foragers think of their impact on wildlife when they remove acorns, elderberries and other native plant foods? And Southern California wild lands and wildlife are not alone in their distress.”

The ongoing drought in Southern California has had a dramatic impact on our wild lands and as Novak points out, “When we forage bark, berries, seeds and leaves from native plants in our wild lands, we decrease the plants’ ability to renew themselves. We also diminish habitat and deprive wildlife of the food needed for survival.” Further, she notes that “Southern California is a biodiversity hotspot — one third of its native plants are found nowhere else in the world — and foraging in our wild lands for native plants further devastates these already shrinking populations of plants that have managed to survive the colonial incursions of the last 500 years. In Southern California and the rest of the country, we have predominantly landscaped with non-native plants that deprive the vast majority of our insect and animal species of the food and shelter they need for survival.”

Bottom line, there are better ways to acquire some of these “wildcrafted cuisine” items for the table, or restaurant. Depleting wild lands should not be one of the options since ultimately this affects wildlife, plantlife and other species.

The full Huffington Post article is available here… certainly worth the read and something to ponder when you’re out in the wild!

Another recent article from the LA Times discusses author/forager Pascal Baudar’s approach to the concept of foraging in California wild lands “People say wild food is free, but they don’t realize the work you do for it.”

But, if the Pascals in the country are free to take whatever they want, according to Lisa Novak “it will be carnage.”



  1. Osian Bellinger

    I have yet to forage in Griffith Park but I have wanted to do so for a while. If I am foraging for non-native invasive plants such as stinging nettle and wild mustard, isn’t this allowing native plants to thrive and therefore helping the ecosystem? Thank you so much

  2. Fran

    I think we would be in good hands and so would the woodlands if all the foragers were like Pascal. You would be amazed to find that through his work, he is dedicated to preserving our native plants and has devoted his teachings and research to ways of work with and cook the invasive plants that have taken over a lot of our areas. He is a foraging conservationist and we would all learn a lot from him. I complete recommend that you take a peek at his Instagram, at his recipes (he has a cook book), and take a class from him.


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