Keep Wild Food Free in Portland

via First Ways. Feb 6, 2012:

Keep Wild Food Free in Portland


Art by Banksy

If you feel strongly that wild plants must be understood as sacred and belonging to no one and everyone in Nature — ‘everyone’ including people, animals, the sky, the land and the water — then please consider joining me in saying so next week at the first meeting of the Wild Food Policy Council. Commercial foragers and timber harvesters have been invited to weigh in, and their view appears to be that wild plants are objects, just a low-overhead resource to harvest for profit. Voices for the wild need to be heard.I am by no means a fan of government, and to be honest I cringed at the intrusion when I first heard this was in the works. I rather like that wild food is outside the body of civilization. But I also recognize that an organization like this could become a means to create such wonderful things as free, edible wild food parks within the city, or perhaps to expand the existing parks and wilderness areas and habitats for native wild plants.

I wrote about why I believe wild food must remain free in my posts “Business Has No Business in Wild Food” and “Is Commercial Foraging A Green Idea?” It is very important that those of us who feel this in our hearts speak and be heard.

I’ve put all the info I have on the council and the event below, copy/pasted from an e-mail sent to me by the organizer of this council.

APRIL 2011


Since the inception of the Portland/Multnomah Food Policy Council in 2002, creating a local, sustainable food system that is accessible to all residents has been paramount. While all of these efforts have been valuable and historic in many ways, the food that has been promoted and protected has been of cultivated origin in practically all cases. Considering that the vast majority of our diet comes from an agricultural based system, this should come as no surprise.

In additional to the food that is created by the guiding hands of humans, it is important to remember that wild foods are an equally important option for all people. Some of the benefits of consuming wild foods include:

-more nutrient dense than cultivated counterparts
-biologically/socially appropriate for people to gather
-often readily available
-usually free or of very little cost compared to purchasing food at the store
-produces the lowest carbon foot print due to lack of human involvement

Below are some examples of wild edible foods which have been broken down into four categories:

-Fish (salmon, steelhead, trout, bass)
-Game (elk, deer, water fowl, upland game birds)
-Mushrooms (chanterelle, porchini, morel)
-Plants (nuts, berries, greens, roots, bulbs)

Now is an excellent time to explore what policies can be put in place in Multnomah County and the City of Portland to promote a better understanding/usage of wild foods.


Due to the vast and somewhat complicated nature of creating sound policy around wild edibles, it will most likely take several years to create a final document that the City of Portland and Multnomah County are comfortable adopting and implementing. Therefore the rest of 2011 can be used as an opportunity to start the conversation. Below is a brief list of possible goals and objectives for the rest of this calendar year.

  • -Define what wild foods are in partnership with City and County staff
  • -Define how and where people should forage for wild foods within the City and County
  • -Reach out to various stakeholders to gain support (hunting/fishing groups, watershed organizations, wild food purveyors, social equity groups, nutrition policy experts, chefs, foraging and gardening groups)
  • -Add minimal but important language to the Portland Plan Food Systems Document as well as the Multnomah Food Action Plan that encourages City and County staff to consider the value of wild edible foods when appropriate.


Wild foods are the most sustainable and accessible forms of nutrition we have available in the City of Portland and Multnomah County. Creating sound policy that promotes awareness and use of wild foods also helps us make broad reaching, intelligent environmental policy that protects our watersheds, reforests our land, feeds local residents at all income levels, and improves our health. It is time that we close the gap in our understanding of such an important subject!

This email is an announcement of the first Wild Food Policy meeting which is a subcommittee of the Portland/Multnomah Food Policy Council. Attached is a document which gives some background about our goals and objectives. Hope to see you there!

Wild Food Policy Subcommittee February Meeting
Date: February 16th
Time: 8:30-10:00 am
Location: Multnomah County Building 501 SE Hawthorne Building, Copper Room


Welcome and Introductions 8:30-8:40

Announcements/Public Comment 8:40-8:45

Wild Food Policy Overview/Definitions 8:45-9:00

Discuss Project Scope/Policy Goals for 2012 9:00-9:50

Review Action Items and Adjourn 9:50-10:00

This entry was posted in Call Outs, Upcoming Events and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s