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Can a City Girl Live Off Wild Food For a Week in Portland?

Photo: “Wild Girl” Becky Lerner
Both the white and blue flowers in the photo above are camas. The white one will kill you, but the blue one is food. The native people of the Portland area considered blue camas root a staple. It took three days of cooking in underground fire pits to make it edible. The bulb is said to taste like a sugary, sweet potato.

From May 24 through May 30, local “Wild Girl” Becky Lerner will be eating an entirely wild diet as she forages from sidewalks, parks, wilderness areas and yards in Portland. There will be no dumpster diving or mooching off gardens – Lerner will be surviving on wild edibles only.

“I’m interested in foraging as a way to connect with the land and explore a fundamental aspect of what it means to be human,” Lerner said. “It’s also a valuable survival skill: Should the trappings of modernity become unavailable to us one day, knowing how to find food without grocery stores or even farms will surely come in handy.”

Lerner readily admits that her pesco-vegetarianism is in question. She will face the decision of whether to endure a vegetable fast — or else eat insects, go fishing or even consider dining on roadkill.

Lerner will be blogging for the nonprofit web magazine on a daily basis during the project, updating readers with photos, video and writings about the foods she finds, how she prepares it, how she is feeling (satisfied? starved? desperate for brownies?) and how it changes her life.

See Lerner blogging on CultureChange here.

Lerner is a 26-year-old freelance journalist living in northeast Portland who writes about primitive skills, wilderness survival and wild food on her blog, Visit her blog here.

And this wild food story wins an award.


Locavore story wins award

May 29, 2009

Toronto Star food editor Kim Honey has won a feature writing award from the Association of Food Journalists.

Honey won for her story “Incredible Edibles,” about locavores and wild food in the city. It included her attempts to kill a rabbit for dinner, which enraged some readers.

“The point of the story was to show how the city, despite its distant relationship with nature, could provide a hyper-local diet if only pollution, city bylaws and love for furry animals would allow us to harvest it and eat it,” Honey says. “It really opened my eyes to the bounty around me, especially things like dandelion and wild mustard. Weeds, it turns out, are delicious.”

The story, published last July, was cited as one of the best newspaper food features in 2008.

The association is a professional journalism group with members across North America, but mainly in the United States. There were 234 entries in 12 categories for 2008.

Link to “Incredible Edibles” here.

1 comment

1 nevada { 05.22.09 at 7:23 pm }

Horaay Becky! Good luck finding lots of purslane.