I love the word “Ethical”. I feel like it encompasses so many things we should be striving for as a human race. Similarly to the word “Tender”. A gentle and considerate way of being. With ourselves, and ALL living things.
I know for some that may sound like “hippy-dippy bullshit”. For 1…I am not a hippy. And secondly, it’s an attitude we are all going to have to adopt if we do in fact want to keep living in abundance and beauty.
So, the ethical harvest. For me, its understanding that i am not the only creature in the forest. That i am not the only one hoping to get my hands on some spruce tips, or dandelions. That in fact some are relying on those things for their survival (or a least some of it), and we must share. A part of that is education, maybe an instinctual understanding, or a simple knowing that we are all in this together. The Birds, bears, bees, fish, and beyond.
When i was a little girl, i remember my mum saying as i gorged on the all the berries i could find,”Save some for the birds!”. And whether she meant it or not, i always have.
Lately i have been foraging for spruce tips. They are unlike anything else…the taste, the texture, the smell. Abundant in their uses as both food and medicine. Pickled, syrup, jelly, tea, used in soup, as a herb for meat, and the list goes on! Such a spring treasure.
Also…..a true lesson in patience when harvesting (ethically). I mean, its easy enough to find a spruce tree and pick all the tips you need in one go, but then what for the tree? Or the creatures who depend on that tree? It wont kill it, but when the world appears to be a bit fragile in all its shifts, its best not to cause anymore obstacles if possible. Same goes for the nettle patch, or dandelion field, or fish in the river.
So, though i may only need 4 cups of tips for jelly, i keep in mind that it may take me a couple of hours. Traveling from tree to tree, taking a few here and there, and if the tree is looking extra happy i may take a few more. It gives me time to really take in my surroundings. Listening to the sound of the Sheep River below the forest in which i walk, watching the birds build their nests, the grouse pounding their wings in search of a mate, and on the last forage, stumbling upon some morel mushrooms! Patience. In all its glory. Taking time. Another fucking gift!
It also insures that i am taking only what i need. It is SO easy to just. keep. going! Because its fun, or you come across a bumping crop of whatever, and could easily pick until you have triple what you need!… then what? Composting is always an option if you can’t find a use for the extra, but its best left unpicked if they don’t have a known final destination.
So, The ethical harvest summed up…As living things, we are all depending on other living things. We all depend on the basics. Food, water, shelter, air. Including the very plants we are picking.
Harvest what you like, what you know, what you can use, and be kind and wise while doing so! The “hippy-dippy bullshit” attitude has a lot of merit! ❤