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Getting Wild: Wild Edibles & Medicinal Plants Tour with Wildman Steve Brill

wild man steve brill

Last weekend I was on a mushroom foraging tour in Connecticut. This weekend I was on a similar wild edibles walk in Manhattan. Yes, Manhattan. It was held in Central Park. And believe it or not, there are all sorts of things you can eat in Central Park. Some of the things are more known, and you might be able to find them in stores or open markets. Other things are more rare, but only because they fell out of use in our modernized monoculture that corporations have established for us. This is why I am learning about wild foods, foraging and medicinal plants. I want to unplug and remove myself from the corporate monopoly. I’m not going to totally or abruptly unplug from society, but to slowly transition physically & mentally into a more independent, but ironically more ‘connected’ way of being. Instead of being connected & tethered to big business, I’ll be connected with people, animals & plants — nature.

lambs quarter black walnutsThis weekend’s wild edibles & medicinal plants tour was lead by ‘Wildman’ Steve Brill. He is famous in New York for his foraging tours, and for his vast knowledge of this subject (he has been teaching and leading in the northeast for 31 years). I have to say, the suggested donation for the tour was 20 dollars and it was the best 20 bucks I ever spent! I walked, I laughed, I had a great time. But in addition to that, I learned a lot of valuable information and I even got to take wild edibles home with me. Some of the goodies I got to take home were: Black Birch, Sassafras, Black Walnuts, Lamb’s Quarter, Kentucky Coffee Tree Seeds, Dandelion Greens, Poor Man’s Pepper, Wood Sorrel, Common Evening Primrose, Spice Bush Leaves, Ginko Berries, and Asiatic Dayflower. Some of the things I collected can be used to make tea, others can be eaten as is.

black birch leaves teaWhen I got home after the tour. I felt so good. I felt more connected to the earth and to people, and more importantly, more connected to myself on a deeper level. I also felt inspired to continue learning and felt like I was on the right track. And, I got to make myself a wild salad! I used my Lamb’s Quarter (tastes like spinach, but better), Asiatic Dayflower (tastes like string beans), Dandelion Greens (tastes bitter & yummy in moderation), and my Poor Man’s Pepper (tastes like lettuce with pepper). Along with other plant veggies (Romaine Lettuce, Cilantro, Green Lentils, etc.) and sea veggies (Wakame Seaweed) I already had in the fridge. It tasted great! I really enjoyed it. Tomorrow I plan on having Black Birch tea for breakfast from the leaves I collected. I’m excited to try it.

I’ve you want to meet me on one of Steve’s tours, I plan on going to the following tours: October 5 & 19th, November 3rd & 30th. You can also check his calender for other dates that might suit you better. These tours only happen as weather permits from March to December.

And if you know of any walking wild edible tours I should check out, just email me or leave a comment below.

[Wildman Steve Brill photo snagged from Kid Champ.]

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You Can’t Handle the Truth! GMOs & SOBs & Everyone in Between.


When I hear about the GMO controversy, my first thought is of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. (See video clip.) To learn more about GMOs, watch Genetic Roulette, watch Seeds of Death, and listen to Jeffrey M. Smith’s research. (Please, don’t be a flake. If you haven’t already, watch the free full-movie links above. Your health is important. Got allergies, skin issues, digestive issues, reproductive issues? Click & watch the links!)

Over the last year I’ve been trying to reduce my food costs. I’ve been buying produce from a local store that is pretty inexpensive. Offering the cheapest prices in our area. But I had some reservations about it over the last two months and I stopped. I decided to go back to buying home grown local (upstate New York) or certified organic produce, that are higher in quality — and of course, higher in price. Much higher.

gmo foodsThe reason I decided to pay more, and buy better quality, is because I think the ‘cheap shop’ is selling GMO produce, and produce shipped here from overseas (as far away as China), and produce that is gown in soil that is void of minerals. The fruits & veggies are huge, they lack diversity in color & shape (very uniform), and you have to eat a lot of them to get strong flavors. The shop carries no organic or local produce. None. I just had a gut feeling that this ‘cheap food’ was coming with a hidden higher cost — my health and the health of the planet.

Right now I am buying much less fruits & veggies — but I am buying higher quality & more seasonal produce, and produce from local shops & farmers markets that cater to small farms, local growers & organic companies. I am also looking for more heirloom & wild foods when I shop in stores. I’ve noticed that heirloom & wild foods shape & color have more much diversity, intensity & beauty. They are also more tasty & satiating. Same goes for the small organic farm or local garden produce. The produce may be smaller in size and a not as perfect (or plastic) looking, but after eating it, I notice that it’s way more satisfying. I need less of those foods to feel full, content, nourished & happy. Try it. Eat some wild foods, or rich soil local garden foods — then try the same food cheaply mass-produced and sold in abundance. Which feels & tastes better? Which satisfies you longer?)

Another thing I started doing, was I started growing my own food, at home! In my New York City apartment (luckily it’s large enough to do this. But if I had a balcony, courtyard or backyard, I would prefer growing food outside.) This has been very exciting. I’ve dedicated quite a bit of space to the project, and it seems to be working out well.

Growing my own food (mixed greens, various tomatoes, etc.) has brought me even closer to how important it is to know how your food is being grown, and what is in it. This city micro-garden I am developing now, is the training wheels for when I move to the country. I’m learning a lot! And for the first time, I’m gardening and putting my hands in the soil — even though I live in a big city — and it feels great!

gmo cornIf you want to know how to make sure you aren’t buying & eating GMO foods (which isn’t easy), there is a great site that gives some helpful tips; How to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods, on WikiHow.

My best advice is to steer clear the best you can of all and any GMO foods (check out the link above so you know what to look for). Try to buy 100% Organic (it must say 100%), and buy local when you can. Buy heirloom or wild (look for those words on the label) varieties of food. Avoid eating fruits without seeds (like seedless citrus, grapes or watermelons — as someone that has eaten a lot of fruit over the years, I can tell you firsthand that these fruits aren’t ideal or healthy.) You can also learn to forage wild edible plants in nature.

And grow your own food! Even if you start out small, do it. Go for it! Grow what you can. If all you have room for is kitchen herbs, grow them! If you can grow some vegetables outside, try raised beds. It’s a method anyone can do. You can put them over pavement, pesticide permeated grass, chemical treated wood, or any surface that isn’t conducive to gardening. John Kohler is a good person to look to for gardening advice & ‘how to’ tips.

Whatever you do — do something! Don’t be a consumer zombie. Learn what is in your food & avoid GMOs. Learn what fuels you best and gives you the most energy. Learn what give you the most radiance, clear thinking & optimum health. Learn what is best for the sustainability of the planet and all living beings that depend on it for survival. Learn how to grow your own food. Then share what you have learned with others. :)

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