From spring through fall you’ll find Lisa M. Rose foraging throughout West Michigan for items to complement her favorite recipes. Rose has been foraging for most of her life. “I cannot recall when I chose to forage or why — wild plants have always been a part of my life,” she said. “But it was during university that I studied anthropology and the rise of agriculture in the Neolithic age, which solidified my love of food systems and ethnobotany — and it’s been a passion of my life ever since, a calling even.”
Rose even wrote a book on the topic, “Midwest Foraging.” So, she is the perfect source to turn to for tips on how to forage around West Michigan.
The best place to start? In your own backyard. “I recommend that folks start outside their doorstep,” Rose said. “Noticing how the plants grow, the manmade and natural features of the neighborhood. Learn the waterways and historic use of the land — all of this does take time, but it helps ensure you are gathering plants from land that is clean from potential pollutants.”
Rose said items to look for include acorns from the oaks, nettles, dandelions, dock, wild mints, flowers like wild roses and berries like black raspberries and mulberries.
“There are so many ways to use these plants — from cocktails to salads to soups to pies and wild breads. You will be surprised how much is edible and useful that grows right outside your door that is useful for the kitchen.”
Of course, being able to positively ID your finds is of the utmost importance so check out Rose’s list of book selections (right) to help guide your search.
If foraging feels a little overwhelming, Rose said there are a few local restaurants you can visit that are likely to include foraged items among their menus.
“I have worked with chefs from Reserve, the former Grove, (the former) six.one.six., Terra GR, Amore and others as they developed wild food items for their menu. I am unsure with COVID how this will look for this harvest season, but I do know that the chefs continue to be highly focused on local, seasonal ingredients sourced from our nearby farms.”