An Interview with Becky Lerner
Over the last few months, I’ve been interviewing amazing writers about simple living, location independence, financial freedom, and more. Today the feature interview is with Becky Lerner. We talked about her blog First Ways, the benefits of urban foraging, and more!
Enjoy the interview peeps!
Tammy: Can you tell us about your blog, First Ways?
Becky: First Ways is my urban foraging blog, where I write about adventures like eating, healing, smoking, brewing and otherwise having fun with the wild plants of the city. Sometimes I share my own stories or those of my friends, and other times I like to highlight really interesting videos floating around or profile fascinating people who are into foraging. Above all my goal is to inspire, empower and entertain.
Tammy: What is urban foraging? And what are some advantages of foraging?
Becky: Rarely do we think about the weeds growing in sidewalk cracks, but in fact they are very valuable — and everyone can have them — and they’re free. Every plant on Earth has a use for human beings, because we co-evolved together over hundreds of thousands of years. Everything we need to live is growing out of the ground.
Urban foraging is about recognizing that, getting back in touch with those plants for fun or for food and folk medicine — if you’re lucky enough to find an abundance, it can add free, healthy food to your diet.
Tammy: How did you get into foraging?
Becky: I first heard about foraging when I was learning wilderness survival from some rural homesteaders in Ithaca, NY, three years ago. It transformed my world to find out that plants have direct relevance to my life, that they aren’t just random abstract living things that happen to be here too, so I took that knowledge with me when I moved to the city of Portland, Oregon, later on.
Foraging is a great way to experience yourself as part of the landscape. It’s also a way to build self-sufficiency skills, something that’s very appealing in times of uncertainty. Plants are everywhere, so you can do it in the city or the country.
Tammy: How is foraging related to simple living?
Becky: What can be simpler than picking your own food or making your own medicine? Foraging is as simple as living gets. It’s even easier than gardening.
Tammy: Do you have a favorite edible that you routinely forage for?
Becky: My favorite edible all-around is the dandelion. I love roasting the roots and making a caffeine-free coffee, stir-frying the leaves in curry, and making wine out of the blossoms.
But I get excited about so many wild plants. I love purple dead nettle because it’s full of antioxidants. I love sorel because the leaves are heart-shaped. And then there’s chestnut flour, which has an unbeatable sweet, nutty flavor. Oh, and fruits and berries are great too — I love picking blackberries in late summer and the fruits of the strawberry tree (Madrone) in fall. There’s so much out there!
Tammy: Your blog is very thoughtful and I think everyone should head over and take a look at your content. Which of your posts should my readers check out first?
Becky: First Ways has something for everyone: If you’re a foodie, check out the posts up right now about chantrelles, Madrone fruit, or my review of the new wild food cookbook by Steve Brill. If you’re intrigued by hallucinogenic wild plants, check out this piece on the dark Datura. Or for something a bit tamer, here’s one on smoking lemon balm, a kind of mint, to relax. And if you’re into survival, don’t miss my posts about living off urban weeds for two weeks.
Tammy: Do you have any upcoming projects you want to share with us?
Becky: I’m excited about a top-secret writing project I’m working on. It’s in the developmental stages.
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