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Two years ago, a friend who heard I adore Saskatoon berries above all else, told me I should be helping myself the plethora of wild Saskatoon berry bushes in town, something that had never occurred to me before.  She introduced me to the word Freeganism, which is the practice of reclaiming and eating free food that would otherwise go to waste.  The frugal environmentalist in me was all over this idea.  The bushes only produce fruit for about one week a year and are virtually impossible to find in grocery stores, making Saskatoon berries all the more special for me to find anywhere.  (I grew up in Edmonton where Saskatoon berries are plentiful; in Southwestern Ontario they are quite uncommon).

The Freegan philosophy, which extends beyond food from Freegan.info: Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed….Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations and where massively complex systems of productions ensure that all the products we buy will have detrimental impacts most of which we may never even consider. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able.

Pretty nice idea, right?  You can start by thinking about how you can take reducing, reusing and recycling further than you already do.  This year I started upcycling parties and doing further internet research on many companies before supporting them such as those that make clothing and makeup.  I try to keep asking myself: Do I really need to buy that?  How and where was it produced?  How can I live better with less?

When it comes to food, no need to start dumpster diving.   Just look around at the wild spaces near you where there are edible plants free for the harvesting.

I ate most of the wild Saskatoon berries I harvested in early July raw, plus I made a fruit crumble with a cookie dough crust.  Delicious!  I planted my own Saskatoon berry bush two summers ago but it’s not producing well yet.  I am hoping for a better harvest in my own back yard next year.

I also harvested grape vine leaves to make rice-stuffed vine leaves.  Smothered in tomato sauce, olive oil and lemon juice, they are treat, though time intensive.

I’m still tweaking the recipes for both the vine leaves and and fruit crumble and will post later when they are just right!  Wild raspberries are also available around me but we’ve had plenty in our own garden and didn’t need to take from elsewhere.

When foraging plants, there are some key things to keep in mind.  First, be sure it’s truly free for the taking and not on private property or protected parkland.  Second, know the plants, be sure they are non-poisonous and have not been sprayed.  I know very little about wild foraging so I stick with the few plants I know.   Third, don’t take too much of the plant.  Other guidelines can be found here.  Happy freeganing!

Anyone else out there practice freeganing?

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