There is food in our natural surroundings, ready for you to harvest, any time of the year.
This project is your guide to accessing it.
I’m Joe Jackson. I’m a native who has spent the first few decades of my life split between rural, urban and suburban living. I’ve become deeply interested in our relationship with the food produced by Minnesota’s woods and waters, from wild & rural public lands, to suburban parks & gardens and the pantries of popular city restaurants.
I hunt, fish, forage, trap and otherwise kill and eat wild plants and animals because I desire to participate in an honestly acquired, local, natural, more sustainable food system than what is provided by industrial agriculture.
The Wild Harvest Guide
When I was a kid I did this because I had no other choice. I had to be under the supervision of my dad and grandpa and this is what they were doing. I wanted to be capable of what they were doing. I wanted to share these rituals with them. I spent a lot of time in their instruction but honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention or actively learning anything. I really just wanted to explore the woods and waters on my own accord.
As I got older I had plenty of freedom to do just that. I got deep in the world of outdoor recreation. I unlocked access to many wild places in our local geography as I broke camps from my bikes, boats and backpacks. I realized my understanding of the happenings in these places was vastly enriched by my education in pursuing the wild animals I share them with. I also realized that conservation of our natural resources is funded by our purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and gear, not our hiking packs and camping tents. There is greater value to the outdoors in our participation as a harvester than as a hiker, paddler or camper.
I attended a large urban university and would balance a hectic social calendar while returning to the land for annual harvest rituals; deer hunting, fishing opener, and maple sugaring. I had many city bound friends who desired access to these things. They affirmed my values. I wanted to share what I've accessed with them.
I return to a wild food lifestyle with an eagerness to develop the skills and confidence to sustainably harvest. It brings me closer to our local ecology and the plants, animals and natural systems we share it with. It brings greater meaning to my life outdoors. It brings great pleasure to me and if this project is done right, can bring the same to you and others.
Wild food is an honest, adventurous and sustainable alternative.
I’m not like other hunters and fishermen I know.
I returned to hunting, fishing, trapping and foraging from a passion for outdoor recreation and an increasing interest in accessing our wild food resources.
I am not a sportsman.
Practice and hard work to earn a harvest is respectable but I'll admit I prefer when things come comfortably and easily. If life had a difficulty setting I’d pick the least challenging one.
I’ve gotten pretty deep into these wild food pursuits and a sporting approach is not what attracted me. Trophy takes don’t usually make the tastiest table fare. I’ll take five outings with small contributions to the freezer over five outings to produce one record animal every season.
• I don't experience hunting and fishing as recreational pursuits, though they are usually fun. I practice them as a means to acquire food, not by need, but by choice.
• My resources of time and money are limited. I invest in efficiencies that yield quality foodstuffs over the production of trophies.
• I’m impressed by anyone who can competently acquire some of their own food products, no matter how those harvests compare.
I am not a chef.
I tend to gather my housemates’ leftovers in one bowl and scarf down caloric fuel that I call food.
It’s important to me that I eat what I kill, even if my early limitations in the kitchen produced some recipes like charred fish chips, "leek putty soup” and the infamous “tar bird”.
I love the taste of any food produced by my own hands.
I understand and respect, that if something must die for me to live, I ought to be the one killing. With proper ethics, in a manner that sustains a harvestable population and conserves natural habitats.
I know that every wild food ingredient is nutritionally superior to it’s cultivated counterpart.
I’m not taking a dogmatic approach to food. Not everything I eat is from the wild. I use plenty of store bought ingredients. I just believe any and every ingredient I replace with wild food is well worth the effort and a step towards a more honest and sustainable diet.
I am not an expert.
I spent much of my youth participating in hunting and fishing with family mentors but wasn’t actively learning anything. I just wasn’t interested. I’m returning to these pursuits as if I’m brand new to them. In these guides are the questions I asked when I attempted these harvest rituals for the first time. They’re basic. And they’re many.
In these guides are the answers I found made the most sense to me. Answers that;
• assumed I knew very little.
• appreciate the best tools for the job but respect strict budgets and a desire for minimalist kits.
help me greater understand and appreciate these plants and animals and their role in our regional ecology.
Prioritize the acquisition of quality food, efficiently, respectfully and sustainably.
This project packages introductions to harvesting wild foods that made sense to me.
And if you’re anything like me, should be invaluable to you too.
So take a look.
Let me introduce you to all the wild plants and animals in Minnesota worth eating.
You’ll learn no nonsense, sustainable and respectable approaches to acquiring them and processing them for the kitchen. This is a better way to eat.