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Off the Beaten Path WITH

Off the Beaten Path WITH BUD LOGAN WILD AND Edible Foods With the coming of spring comes the opportunity to gather incredible treats from the wild. Many types of wild foods are just waiting out there, plentiful and quite easy to locate. I have always loved hiking in the forest in the search for edible wonders to take home for the family. My sons and l were up hiking along the Ralph River trail in Buttle Lake area last year when we came upon a morel growing straight out from a tree. We’d never seen this before so we were all interested. It was an old specimen, but it was a morel. Mushrooms are like that: they can always surprise you. Morels are one of my favorite edible mushrooms. They belong to the morchella species and are mostly found in forest fire burnt areas. They can grow on burn sites for up to three years after forest fires. The number of morels produced over this three-year period decreases as regenerating vegetation begins to compete for nutrients and space. There is nothing like a feed of these mushrooms after a hike in the forest. Plants like the camas root are tasty and easy to gather. In the old days, people would harvest copious amounts of camas bulbs and take them to great cooking pits that had been dug in the soil and lined with hot rocks. Cooking would last a day, during which time the bulbs would turn soft and brown, while inside, they developed a buttery texture and the delicious flavour of roasted nuts. Here are three hints. Never gather camas root until the flowers are visible. And, if the flower is white, leave it, as it is the inedible death camas. Only gather roots from plants with blue flowers. (250) 895-9400 / info@stillinmotionmedia.com Campbell NORTH ISLAND River, COMPASS Vancouver | ISSUE Island, 8 British Columbia Stillinmotionmedia Other plants like the chocolate lily with its small roots

of incredible flavour is also a wonderful wild food. Then you have plants like cleavers of which all parts can be consumed. It is not just a wonderful food but it also has remarkable healing powers; as well, the seeds of cleavers can be used as a coffee substitute. In Sweden, farmers use cleavers as a sieve to filter milk, saying it adds medicinal qualities and improves the flavour. North Vancouver Island has many choice edible foods that can be harvested from the wild. Some are very nutritious and some can add a flavour to your table that cannot be bought. But please be careful when gathering wild foods, as some may not agree with you. Others can make you quite ill. Some wild foods can be confused with inedible or poisonous ones. Be sure you know what you’ve harvested before eating any wild foods. There are many great field guides for edible plants, so find a decent one for your area and take it out on hikes. Maybe you’ll be able to join a walkabout with a knowledgeable guide who can teach just what is out there. You may bring home some wonderful treats in the process. Here are a few more hints. Don’t overharvest a single species in one location and never harvest endangered species. Only take what you need. Before harvesting a plant that is new to you, gather a little and try it out. Even though a plant may be edible, its flavour may not be to your liking. Be careful about gathering wild plants in areas that have been sprayed with pesticides, or in areas where you don’t know if spraying has occurred. I don’t gather wild plants along any roads because the dust and pollution from exhaust fumes can contaminate the plants, making them unfit for consumption. Photos Bud Logan L-R Chocolate Lily; Morel on a tree; Chocolate Lily; Morel Mushroom; Camas Lily So get your book on edible plants or sign up for a guided lesson and head out into the field. You will have fun, learn about plants and get healthy from both the plants and the walk in the forest. Bud Logan has lived on Vancouver Island since 1961 and has a deep love of the Island’s wild places. He is an artist, environmentalist, writer, photographer and amateur entomologist. Interested in finding out about Vancouver Island’s wild places? Visit Bud at www.gohiking.ca WWW.NORTHISLANDCOMPASS.CA | 11

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