Jun 27, 2023 - Things to Do

The hunt for wild foods is on in Philly

Illustration of an upward arrow made out of mushrooms.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Philly has a budding foraging scene that is converting the hunt for wild foods from a niche interest into more of a mainstream hobby.

Why it matters: Foraging helps reconnect people with nature, encourages self-reliance, and offers free access to foods at a time of sky-high grocery costs, especially in under-served communities.

State of play: Learning about how and where to forage in Philly, which has deep roots in Indigenous cultures, has never been easier.

  • Groups and tour guides that teach how to harvest wild foods have seen interest climb in recent years.
  • Meanwhile, Facebook groups give people a forum to connect with fellow foragers and ask for advice on what they find.

The big picture: Foraging is having a moment nationwide too.

Zoom in: Danni Morinich, who owns Philly-based herbal tincture and foraging tour business Landed Gentress, tells Axios she credits the pandemic-induced shutdowns for sparking a renewed interest in people to explore the outdoors and hunt for wild foods.

Plus: Morinich says she's noticed a rise in foraging particularly among Black and brown communities.

  • They are connecting to their roots and finding a renewed freedom in spaces they've traditionally not felt comfortable in, Morinich said.

How it works: Foraging can be done practically anywhere in the city, with plants traditionally known as weeds being the foundation of wild foods.

  • Look for juneberries at the Delaware River waterfront, mulberries and garlic mustard at FDR Park in South Philly, dock leaves pretty much everywhere, and pawpaws in Fairmount Park.

Yes, but: The city uses herbicides in city parks, which can be dangerous when ingested. There are several precautions you should take:

  • Research to make sure you're not mistaking a plant for a potentially hazardous lookalike.
  • Be sure to thoroughly wash whatever you find before eating it.

What they're saying: "There's stuff all over the city, you just have to know what it is and you just have to look," said Morinich. "So many people are walking by or stepping over these plants every day."

  • "Foraging is learning what nature can provide as far as food, fiber, medicine, and more," says Landes, who's been providing educational tours of wild plants since 2010.

Tips: Grow wild plants in pots at home, like wild violet leaves and onion grass (or wild garlic), and bishop's goutweed.

  • Join a foraging tour or group, like Wild Foodies, to better understand what to look for.

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