Monday, October 19, 2015

Slow Food Corvallis ~ Wild and Native Foods

On October 17th, Slow Food Corvallis hosted a sold out event entitled Wild and Native Foods. Featured speaker, Washington State University Botanist
Dr. Duncan Thomas
Duncan Thomas, opened his presentation with this thought provoking exercise: "Instead of being concerned about limiting your caloric intake, imagine that your only available food source is what grows in the wild and must be gathered and prepared by hand."

Dr. Thomas then illustrated this storyline with the unromantic reality of what it takes to forage a safe and nutritious meal. Bottom line: It is an arduous, daily undertaking that can be deadly without experienced knowledge but may also be the best hope of surviving a disaster.

Wild plants can be deceivers or unexpected saviors so a healthy respect is in order. Examples! There are two nearly identical varieties of camas bulb. One will feed you carbs, the other is certain be your last meal.  It's that poisonous. (Though even good camas warrants caution as the Lewis and Clark expedition learned first hand.) Then there is the surprisingly digestible cattail.  Edible from shoot to flower and then some. Who knew?

Native plants and animals are the very reason we survived as a species in the first place and can now indulge our cultivated taste for sugar, fat, and salt.  So it's wise to get acquainted with the wild bunch.
Culminating the event was a buffet of local hand harvested and crafted samples, most of which required many days of preparation.  Frequent comments among the guests were about appreciating how easy our North American food requirements are in comparison.

At the end of his presentation, Dr. Thomas divulged the results of a high-level research project his students conducted last year.  If you happen to find yourself near a cattail swamp during the Zombie Apocalypse, you are in luck.  An acre of swamp will feed you and four others for a year. The students recommend reserving your spot in the swamp ASAP!


Slow Food Corvallis is a chapter of Slow Food USA and Slow Food International, founded in 1989 to promote food that is defined by three interconnected principles: good, clean and fair