Years ago, I spent a few summers visiting a friend's family in coastal South Carolina. Between the pecans growing on the trees, the peanuts that were available for pennies at roadside stands, and the crabs that were practically begging to be harvested from the creeks, I decided that South Carolina was, quite possibly, the garden of Eden. Of course, the sweltering heat wasn't all that great, but isn't that why air conditioning was invented?
While South Carolina's culinary bounty still looms large in my memory, most of the places where I've lived or visited had some edible specialty that was particularly memorable. In Southwest Virginia, it was wild berries and venison, while Western Massachusetts produced a maple syrup that, in my opinion, rivals Vermont. Even my current home of New York has the occasional berry tree, chestnut trees, and pickles that are mind-blowingly good.
Admittedly, acorns, raspberries, and wild burdock probably aren't going to completely supplant the grocery store as your chosen source of food, but you could save a little money here and there while injecting some new flavors into your diet. If you're interested in giving foraging a try, you might want to take a peek at Prodigal Gardens. In addition to offering tons of recipes and foodlore, the group also sponsors classes in the upper Midwest; however, even if you live in lower Wisconsin, lower Minnesota, or upper Iowa, the site is a wonderful reminder of the free culinary bounty that exists only a few feet from your door!
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He realizes that pickles don't count as a natural bounty, but he had a hard time coming up with foraging fodder that's available in the New York City area.
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