In his 2006 book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Michael Pollan looks at the idea of foraging as one of the four meals he considers in his book (McDonald’s, Whole Foods, and a local farm represent the other three). He starts with the highly industrialized fast food meal and works his way through more natural food choices until he arrives at foraging. Pollan went into the woods and searched for mushrooms, collected salt from the San Francisco Bay, and hunted a wild boar in Northern California, for the ultimate in fresh, local, and self procured food. For just about everyone else, this is not an option. However, a new style of garden in Seattle is bringing foraging to the public, and those who do not necessarily have access to fresh food
NPR reports that a 7 acre park (Beacon Food Forest) with numerous fruits will be open to the public to harvest. According to the story, “Seattle Public Utilities, offered up the 7-acre plot, which could make it the largest, urban food forest on public land in the U.S.” The full acreage will not be converted into a “food forest” right away. The project starts with a 1.75 acre test plot slated for completion by the end of the year.
While hopes remain high, the issue of “overzealous pickers” remains unsolved. Numerous examples of the “Tragedy of the Commons,” in which a common resource is exploited and degraded serve as cautionary tales. For a look at a similar system, FallenFruit.org has published maps of fruit trees on their website for years. Pollan mentioned the organization in his book, yet the maps are curiously static. In this day and age of community sourced Google Maps it seems curious that they have not adopted this tool as a way to digitize what are currently PDFs.