VIDEO OF THE MONTH

wild foods

monkey meat
wild jungle grouse eggs
piraña
jungle puddle trout
‘suri’-wood beatle grub maggots (2 types)
wild pig
pig liver
ayahuasca brew
monkey apple fruit
caña liqueur with milk and raw eggs
other funky river fish I don’t know names
I think that’s it. Oh and fermented yucca juice
And water-buffalo-jungle-cattle meat

That’s the “Just want to write down all the crazy stuff I have eaten on the Río Napo before I forget” list. My journal from our time in the Amazon watershed revealed a bounty of treasures. Here’s another one:

< I just love sitting on the floor in those plain bamboo and straw platform houses, being part of the family, relaxing like I live here. The thin floor that bounces when you walk, the leaky frond roof, the muddy surroundings, the big rectangular fire pit, elevated to belly height and coals kept red always. Meals served on the floor, no tables, no chairs. Just sit down and grab your dished out plate of wild pig and grouse eggs and rice. >

Preparing fish Amazon Style on our river trip. Photo by Chris Hinkley.

River people live very different lives than those that we witnessed on other parts of our trip. It was easily one of the most unique experiences of the journey; which might explain why we have shared so many stories from there already. The novelty was a source of inspiration for many writing projects including the blog, newspaper articles, and even the kickstarter fundraiser.

The Río Napo people embodied the idea of localization that I was searching for in my travels. The material simplicity and ecosystem immersion of the Napo people creates a locally rooted culture. This culture grows its identity and maintains resilience through harvesting local foods. Such active participation in the ecosystem creates the deep understanding and respect I strive for in my own relationship with my places.

On a cold, crisp December day last month I was wandering around with my good friend Will through the forest of Douglas, the island we call home. We took a break from creeping around looking for deer and I offered the Ziploc of Costco granola, nuts, and raisins that I had trail-mixed together earlier that morning.

“Oh dude, I actually have good food,” Will told me.

He proceeded to pull a jar of king salmon and a baggie of roasted goose breast from his pack. We followed the lesson we had learned on our kayak trip through the Inside Passage: ‘eat your best, that way you’ll always be eating your best.’ The trail mix got pushed aside.

Lucy preparing fish Alaska Style on our kayak trip. Photo by Lia Heifetz.

This lesson carried through from the urchins or beach asparagus we found on the kayak leg of our Trip South, on to the street ceviche or mango trees we discovered on the bike portion. ‘Eating your best’ was the rule to live by, and particularly applicable when we traveled the rivers of the Amazon watershed.

Traveling abroad for so long temporarily weakened my connection to place, but now that I am back home I am excited to dig in and deepen my roots. And it’s very exciting to return to see that some of my friends (many of them “Official ATripSouth Buddies”) are also developing strong place-based lifestyles.

Will, Matt, and Michael, for example, never have to buy supermarket meat. They each rely exclusively on their own wild collections. Lia has been coordinating local food workshops, and recently organized a series of community harvest events like this one in Kasaan. The events aimed to teach and inspire Southeast Alaskan communities to develop food security by supplementing their diets with wild foods.

Devil's Club or ts'íihlanjaaw (in Haida), s’áxt’ (in Tlingit) harvest in Kasaan. Photo by Lia Heifetz.

Admittedly, collecting your own wild food can be time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” to improve your quality of life. I was so happy to see that my parents still had wild-picked blueberries in the freezer from this past summer’s apparently legendary berry season. Every little excursion out to collect wild food increases ones knowledge and appreciation for where they live. It’s a process I personally love and can’t wait to do more of now that I am back where I belong.

A Few Good Resources:

Sustainable Southeast Food Blog

Discovering Wild Plants: Alaska, Western Canada, The Northwest Book

Wild Edible & Medicinal Plants Book

Please comment below with more good resources, opportunities or events. 

How do you eat your best food?

3 thoughts on “

  1. I love listening to all the stories of your adventures. So many details, so many fun times, and so many wonderful people who guided you along the way in comfort, food, and kindnesses…..it must be your karma!

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