National Geographic reports that New York City officials publicly worried about overharvesting after a New York Times urban forager blogger encouraged her readers to harvest day lilies from Central Park. “If 15 people decide to go harvest day lilies to stir-fry that night, you could wipe out the entire population of day lilies around the Central Park reservoir,” parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe warned.
Benepe’s right. Especially in New York, cities don’t have enough wild space to support people foraging for their diets as an exclusive source of food. I agree with NYT blogger Ava Chin that we should still forage in those places, but it is hugely important to be mindful of our ecological impact. We aren’t the only creatures who eat weeds or who need them around.
A big part of the problem is that people think of food as an instant and inexhaustible resource because our experience of industrial agriculture has made it seem that way. Foraging shows the reality of sustainability up close and personal.
What do you think about the NYC parks’ reaction? Do you agree? And what has foraging taught you about food?