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Fresh Food Trends Natural Trailblazers in Sustainable Eating by Melinda Hemmelgarn


Learn about four thriving food trends resulting from shifts in Americans’ thinking and our growing love for all things local.


F


ood experts have listed local, regional and sustainable foods among the top food trends for 2014. Consumers’ heightened environmental awareness and their love for fresh flavors are responsible. There’s even a new term,


“hyperlocal,” to describe produce harvested fresh from onsite gardens at restaurants, schools, supermarkets and hospitals -- all designed for sourcing tasty, nutrient-rich foods minus the fuel- guzzling transportation costs. Adding emphasis to the need to preserve vital food sources, the United Nations has designated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming.


Foraging


What could be more entertaining and economical than searching for and gathering wild foods in their natural habitat? From paw paws and persimmons in Missouri to palmetto berries in Florida and seaweed in California, Mother Nature provides a feast at her children’s feet. Commonly foraged foods include nuts, mushrooms, greens, herbs, fruits and even shellfish. To learn how to identify regional native wild foods and cash in on some “free” nutritious meals, foragers need to know where and when to harvest their bounty. Conservation


14 Natural Awakenings San Antonio


departments and state and national parks often offer helpful field guides and recipes.


Jill Nussinow, also known as The


Veggie Queen, a registered dietitian and cookbook author in Santa Rosa, California, characterizes foraging as “nature’s treasure hunt.” Nussinow says she forages for the thrill of it and because, “It puts you very much in touch with the seasons.” On her typical foraging excursions through forests and on beaches, Nussinow notes, “You never know what you might find: mushrooms, berries, miner’s lettuce, mustard pods or sea vegetables. It’s free food, there for the picking.” However, she warns, “You have to know what you are doing. Some wild foods can be harmful.” For example, Nussinow advises


getting to know about mushrooms before venturing forth to pick them. She recommends the book Mushrooms Demystified, by David Arora, as a learning tool, and checking with local mycological associations for safe mushroom identification. She also likes the advice of “Wildman” Steve Brill, of New York City, who publishes educational articles at WildmanSteveBrill. com. “He knows more about wild foods than anyone I know,” she says.


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