Fruit pickin’

Peaches

A well-earned, in-season harvest. Photo: Quilt salad via Flickr.

The idea of eating locally and in-season just makes sense.

Foods that grow locally are produced in the very same environment in which we’re nested. Thus it’s quite likely that they contain the essential micro-nutrients which, quite naturally, work well for us.

The “in-season” concept, in fact, makes more and more sense when we start to really study nature.

Think about it: in the spring, after a long winter’s nap, Mother Nature cranks out voluminous amounts of milk and eggs — all high protein foods needed to sustain the increased activity level of longer days. She also produces vast amounts of chlorophyll-rich greens — again, delivering vital nutrients for high energy needs.

Then, as fall begins to creep in, She ripens fruit — lots of it — to supply that last little burst of bustle before our long winter’s nap. There’s a lot to get done before we don our long-johns and sit by the fire, sipping teas (that we wildcrafted all summer), to at last rest on our well-earned laurels. And, that fructose is there, custom made, to fuel us up for the last wood-stacking, garden harvesting, and livestock chores.

Let’s not overlook how incredibly easy it is to store fruit for winter use — dehydrated, canned, frozen, root cellared, cold storage — and how well it keeps long into the blustery season.

The fruits of our labor

There’s also the fact that fruit is plentiful. Sadly, much of it goes to waste annually from simply not being harvested.

In most towns, there are vacant lots full of apple, plum, elderberry and pear trees. Blackberries grow wild along roadsides. Rosehips are everywhere. Old, abandoned orchards dot the countryside and wild counterparts of many domesticated strains pop up everywhere.

But, very few people pick the fruit. Much of it falls to the ground and rots, while countless people go hungry.

figs

Figs. Photo: RubberSlippers in Italy via Flickr.

There are many of reasons for this, notwithstanding the main one — that people have become incredibly divorced from nature. They get fruit at a grocery store, not from a tree or bush. People say things like that “they don’t have time” to go pick some fruit or that “they feel uncomfortable” (outside of their comfort zone) harvesting wild fruits. Others worry they’ll be viewed as strange or eccentric if they’re out in nature, or a roadside, picking wild fruit.

All of these perceptions are products of shameful result of manipulative commercial conditioning. They’re not natural or unconditioned thoughts. We’re part of nature. She’s fed us since the beginning of time. Supermarkets, by contrast, are a relatively new invention in the bigger scheme of things.

Preserved fruit

Preserved fruit. Photo: Jeffrey W via Flickr.

I wildcraft a lot of fruit every fall. I really enjoy doing it. It puts me back in touch with the hunter-gatherer consciousness and I feel very much a part of Mother Nature.

It also ignites an incredible gratitude in me toward nature. I really see Her power, Her bounty, Her resilience.

As I pick, I watch the geese form early formations to head south. I notice that the angle of the afternoon sun has changed and that the golden light is more pronounced through the tree branches than it is in the heat of the Summer. I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile when I share the fruit with others. I make applesauce and berry pies.

And, I feel very, very alive!

–Sherry L. Ackerman, Ph.D, Transition Voice

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