Have you been out wild food collecting yet? Saskatoon berries are pulling heavily on branches, the early summer heat is quickly turning the berries sweet and juicy. There is nothing in this world quite so satisfying as finding a perfect Saskatoon bush, with large dark berries and (relatively) small seeds. The free feeling of picking wild food, complete with sharp flavour and imperfections, is addicting once you begin.
And while Saskatoon is the most visible and available wild food around us, first turning the mountains green with new leaves and then white with blossoms, there are others too. Oregon Grape has surprisingly tart berries, the flavour quickly inducing a puckering of your lips.
Just as with any garden, each week can bring new delightful wild treats. There are bitter sxwúsum (Soap Berry) and wonderfully sweet wild raspberries. Further into the mountains the slightly odd but delicious flavour of Thimble berry tempts our fingers until they stain red and shapely rose hips can be turned into a satisfying tea.
Wild food often feels somehow more concentrated than the grocery store alternatives. Eating a single wild strawberry, small as it may be, seems to contain the flavour of an entire box of their distant relatives from the fields of California compressed into the size of your smallest finger nail. The intense heat and dry soil of the South Interior doesn’t encourage the excesses of growth, but it builds strength and character. Our native plants become hardy and tenacious, producing sharp flavours in their berries and leaves.
Through wild food we can connect to the changing of the seasons, the passing of time, and ultimately better find our own place in the world.