Since giving up farming a couple years ago, my interest in sustainable diets has only changed focus, not waned. Turning away from the domestic, I have been exploring wildcrafted food and medicine, including plants traditionally used by Native Americans. So this spring, when my former farming partner, Clara, invited me to visit northeast Oregon with her for the early summer harvest season of wild foods there, I was thrilled.
We spent six weeks in and around Hell’s Canyon on the Oregon/Idaho border, an area that’s abundant for foragers and has been for millennia. Fruit trees, berry bushes, wild roots and medicinal herbs can be found in profusion, mostly on public land. Most of this flora is native but some was introduced through European colonization. All of it is threatened to one degree or another by misuse of the land, both contemporary and historic, and by Climate Change. Indeed, every place we explored offered us a glimpse of the past and a taste of the future.