WHY EAT WILD?

"In wildness is the preservation of the world." -H.D. Thoreau

Why eat from the wild? The answer is obvious to anyone who has felt the emotional uplift from the weight of a basket brimming with morel mushrooms, the earthy-sweet scent of digging Sassafras roots, or the heavy pulsing of a fish testing the limits of your fly rod.
There are a million reasons to eat wild, to get dirty, to taste fresh food. It is here where we connect to the Earth, our Ancestral past, immediate present and hope for a healthy future...

"Nothing else can build such awareness as surely and powerfully as practicing the ancient ecological art of humankind - foraging. It is not observation of, but rather participation in the phenomena of Nature that brings us to our greatest understanding of our place in the mosaic of life."
-Samuel Thayer The Forager's Harvest



Foraging in the Tip of the Mitten!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Full Moon Feasts: The Egg Moon

March 22nd - April 20th, 2012

Canada Goose eggs along the Jordan River, day of the New Egg Moon.

With the warming weather the birds are on the move to their nesting grounds and we have entered a new Moon that in many cultures was known as the Egg Moon. Moving into our area for egg laying are our Woodcock, Thrushes, and many others. Moving even more northwards are our winter residents who use the boreal forests and tundra for their nesting and rearing. These include birds such as the Rough-Legged Hawk, the Snowy Owl, and several diving ducks like the Goldeneye. In the Finnish mythological epic, the Kalevala, it was a Goldeneye's egg from which the earth, sun and moon were born. It is said that this duck nested on the exposed knee of the great goddess Ilmatar as she drifted underwater. She shook her knee and the eggs spilled and broke forming our world. The bottom of the shell became earth, and the top the sky. The yolk became the sun and the white the moon.

Killdeer egg, 2010. They hatched out to be
 little fuzz balls on stilts.

Eggs have always held a special fascination to people the world over. And why shouldn't they? They are perfect and mysterious; beautiful and edible; a warm little stone in a bed of twigs that metamorphoses into a winged being that flies through clouds. Or they are a gelatinous, slimy group of stuck together orbs that will spill out creatures that will grow tails, then legs and someday become frogs. And yet some are a glowing orange mass huddled underwater waiting for a mystical white drift from the male fish, so they can grow into a tiny fry still feeding off the egg sack connected to their body. Eggs are certainly a magical thing if there ever was one.

“In antiquity the Romans used to immediately break the shells of eggs… 
 which they had eaten, in order to prevent enemies from making magic with them.”
                                                                     -J.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough

 Generally speaking, hunting during the Egg Moon, and spring in general, is taboo because it is the time for the animals to reproduce.  Indigenous people got their protein this time of year in the form of fish and bird egg harvests. They knew that if you catch the bird early on its nest, the eggs are fresh and taking only a few of the eggs will not harm the bird population because the female will re-lay to make up for the lost eggs. 

"Dad took us up there to get the eggs, and before we went to get the eggs while we're 
on our way up on the boat, they would instruct us about how many eggs to take, respect it and
not try to play with it. And like I said, it was just like a spiritual food."
-Lily White, Huna Tlingit Elder
                                    A Study on the Traditional Use of Bird Eggs by the Huna Tlingit 

Wild Eggs! Clockwise: A Chicken Egg for comparison, Mute Swan Egg, Wild Turkey Egg,
Canada Goose Egg, and Dried Chinook Salmon Eggs.

Eggs can also be found often under water from when a brooding bird accidentally knocked an egg out of a nest. As a kid I'd find Mallard Eggs in Minges Brook, the crick that was behind my house. 

“Each day Nedercook would check to see whether the murres had started 
to lay eggs… These sea birds did not bother to build a nest but rather laid 
their eggs on the bare ledges… If the mother was not careful… the egg 
would roll off and break as it fell, unless it was over water. On calm days 
when the water was clear, her father would often go in his kayak and, using 
a long pole with a little skin basket fastened to the end, scoop the eggs from 
the bottom of the sea.”
                                    -Edna Wilder, Once upon an Eskimo Time

 According to the Huna Tlingit people, a way to tell if the egg was still in it's early stages was whether or not it would float. They would carry small buckets of sea water to test the eggs. If it sank it was good, and if it didn't, it was too far into embryo development to eat. For more information on Huna Tlingit egg harvesting check out A Study of Traditional Use of Bird Eggs by the Huna Tlingit. A fascinating and fun read available online.

“I only remember my grandfather would put the egg up like this, 
looking towards Heaven and thanking the birds for the food that he
 found… He’d call the birds just like they were people…and he 
said, ‘Thank you for letting me find the egg for my meal today.’”
                                    -Adeline St. Clair, Huna Tlingit Elder
                                    A Study on the Traditional Use of Bird Eggs by the Huna Tlingit 

I just want people to appreciate the lengths I go to to get a
 picture of a Goose nest... It's stupid but I'm stubborn.
Why can't I just find one online? 




3 comments:

  1. Have you collected Canada geese eggs before? We have lots of geese in this area and I've always thought it would be cool to go looking for their nests. Are they safe to eat? Even urban geeses eggs? Thanks for going through all that trouble for us :)

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  2. I have found eggs in the river, cracked them open and they were good. There was one that was gross inside because it was further along in development. I'd watch where the geese are eating and drinking before I ventured in any culinary pursuits. For example I saw some the other day drinking from a puddle in the Lowes parking lot. I should mention that they are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird act. Mute Swans, however (an invasive species around here) are not. Their eggs are the size of 5 chicken eggs, 1lb each and are hard as hell to crack. The yolk is about 60% of the egg (or more) and is much thicker and richer than a chicken egg.

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  3. but you don't have your hat on so i'm not sure it's really you...

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