Posted by: ithacaisdoomed | October 3, 2009

Rewild your lunch hour through urban foraging!

So I was going to start this whole thing off by writing about how much I hate Ronald Reagan and how it was he who really set us off on the path to oblivion.  However, I thought I’d better start with something a little more upbeat–So, Rewild your lunch hour through urban foraging!

To rewild is to reconnect with the natural world that sustains us, not just to go take a hike, but to really make the “wild” a part of your life.  One great way to do this is through foraging wild or cultivated plants, especially during your lunch break from work!  For me, foraging really dispels those doomy gloomy thoughts and Autumn in Ithaca is a great time to forage, no matter if you’re downtown or out in the bush.

GEDC1309

These are Kousa Dogwood fruits.  Kousa Dogwoods are an Asian import, planted all over the country by zealous landscapers.  This group of 8 trees is growing in between the Seneca St. Parking Garage and the downtown post office.  The fruits ripen during the last week of September and first week of October, coinciding with the Apple Harvest Festival.  While not a “wild food” that is going to sustain a person, the Kousa fruits are highly unusual (they have this kind of prehistoric look, in my opinion) and they taste quite good when you hit upon a really ripe one. 

The redder the fruit the riper, and there seems to be some variation between individual fruits and trees.  These fruits are good for novelty value only!  Eating them involves squeezing out the inner pulp (the outer hard skin is extremely bitter), sucking out the delicious mango/apricot like innard, then spitting the seeds and leftovers all over the wall of the parking garage.  Naturally, anyone who sees you doing this will think you’re a little uncouth, but who cares!  You’re reconnecting with a wilder part of yourself, a simian legacy a whole lot less doomed than the guy in the suit waiting in line or the women powerwalking by in pantyhose and Reeboks.

Incidentally, I brought some of these home to my wife and son.  They were well received, especially by the child who loved spitting the seeds and innards all over the place.  So, while not really something that’s going to help you thrive in adverse conditions, the Kousa Dogwood offers a great little apperitif and perhaps some unknown nutrient.  While I was out scouting  the day I found these, I also noticed the rank vomit -like smell of ripe Ginkgo fruits.  So in my next post, Going nuts for Ginkgo nuts, even though they smell like vomit.

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