Vegan Chickpea Cacciatore + 5 Reasons to Try Wildcrafting!

 

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Wild foods are a rich source of nutrition that's typically undervalued in our fast-food world. Most wild plant foods are more nutritionally-dense than conventionally grown plant foods found at the grocery store, delivering a mega-dose of nutrients that have long been bred out. 
 
For instance, the dandelions on our front lawns contain more nutrition than the dandelion greens we buy in store, yet we regard them as a nuisance. Of course, due to the heavy pesticide application on suburban front lawns, I don’t recommend eating those dandelion greens! For a list of the nutritional information on popular wild foods, here's a handy chart (Mugwort anyone?). 

5 Reasons to Go Wild 

  1. They encourage diversity in the plant world 
  2. The majority of wild plants are more nutritious than those purchased from the store
  3. They’re genetically stronger than conventionally grown foods  
  4. You get vitamin D, exercise and can relax when you “wildcraft” (pick your own produce) 
  5. The plants are free! (that is, unless you buy them from a wildcrafting outfit) 
Wild Thing 

There are several precautionary measures you need to take before scavenging for wild foods. There are many books written on the topic, along with guides-for-hire that can take you out into nature to forage. Do not go wildcrafting unless you know what you’re doing! This activity if best left to the experts.

The only wildcrafting experience I’ve had has been picking wild raspberries at my cottage. Without a guide, I don’t think I’m going harvesting for anything too exotic anytime soon. Luckily, there are resources for accessing wild foods, without the risk.

Where to Buy Wild Foods Online

Forbes Wild Foods: A Canadian company that you can purchase a variety of unique (and safe!) wild foods from. They have a variety of mushrooms, dried goods, syrups, preserves, vegetables and much more. The products are available online and at select stores across Canada.

BC Kelp: A small company, run out of British Columbia, Canada. BC Kelp provides a variety of nutrient-dense seaweeds to consumers, and harvests them in a sustainable manner. Sea vegetables are one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, containing iodine, iron, protein and a wide range of other nutrients.    

For the Adventurer

forageSF: forageSF’s Wild Mushroom Adventures in California, take students out to safely harvest gourmet wild mushrooms. There are workshops going on right now, as it happens to be mushroom season! 

Wild Food Adventures: This workshop in Oregon is run by a wildcrafting pioneer and expert. There are several opportunities to participate throughout the year.    
 
Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In the kitchen, it’s a stew made with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and other vegetables. While I didn’t hunt for these ingredients, this vegan Chickpea Cacciatore is inspired by the traditional dish. 

Packed with a healthy dose of mushrooms, this dish is a true superfood standout. These delectable fungi contain beta-glucans, for immune system support; provide powerful anti-inflammatory properties; and are currently being studied for their role in cancer prevention. If you can get your hands on wild mushrooms (purchased from a reputable source), that would bump up the nutrition in this dish even further.

While it’s still far too cold to wildcraft where I live, I’m keeping an open mind to this activity in the future. (With a pro, of course, because if you’ve seen Into the Wild, you know what happens when you eat an “off” mushroom!)  
 
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Have you ever gone wildcrafting or foraging? 

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