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Forage for Your Supper

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Tama Matsuoka Wong believes everyone should forage for his or her supper.

A pro-forager, self-professed "gardener with a black thumb" and author of Foraged Flavor, she convincingly attests that foraging for yourself is a more harmonious and sustainable way of living.

Having seen her talk at TEDx, I knew I had to have her on Conversations to find out how she began her foraging adventures, her philosophy behind plants, and the top tips to forage for food.

In the process of conversing, however, Tama had a number of salient points that we can often take for granted -- like the idea of providing our own sustenance. "I love going to restaurants," she reflects. "But think about it: I'm completely dependent on someone else for food, which is so basic. There should be some balance there."

I tend to agree with her.

As a city dweller of nine years, I've come to realize that I now rely entirely on others to fetch, forage and farm my food. Sure, I cook for myself and grow some key herbs, but besides that, I am completely reliant on others for my daily dose of nutrition.

Of course, I remember the days of my family's garden; we would have so many zucchinis and raspberries that we'd absolutely burst at the seams by the end of the summer.

The wild blackcaps that grew on the interstitial of meadow and forest and the wild strawberries and purslane that seemed to thrive on formerly disturbed land, were also fair game too. Most recently, my dad even encouraged me to make a trip home in early August, lest I miss blueberry season. There has been so much food for thought (every pun intended) since I've launched SRO Conversations.

My first guest, Sanjay Rawal, shared how our supermarkets coerce our country towards industrialized agricultural; Tama reflected on how landscapes and lifestyles shape the way we eat; and Randy Hayes discussed how fragile our industrial agricultural system truly is -- particularly in a time of spastic weather.

It's clear to me that when we talk about sustainability, most of us are only architecting a patina or caricature of the principles on top of a very flawed system. Our relationship (or lack thereof) to our food -- how we purchase, eat and waste it -- is no exception.

Achieving balance may be a longer journey than most of us have mapped out, but from what I've learned over the years, it's the journey that allows us to reap more of what we sow.

To watch the full-length conversation with Tama Matsuoka Wong, click here. To view all episodes of SRO Conversations, visit and subscribe here.

For more by Summer Rayne Oakes, click here.

For more on diet and nutrition, click here.

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