Friday, July 1, 2011


It's wineberry season. This week both kids had camp and I found time to slip out to pick berries. We've eaten them for breakfast, snacks, and dessert; I put five quarts in the freezer, and I have a batch of jam cooking right now.

In my ongoing battle with the invasives on our property, the wineberry gets special treatment. Out of season, I pull the bushes without compunction (but not without puncturing. Sorry, couldn't resist. These babies have barbs.) I am particularly diligent in the parts of our woods where I find most of the native spring ephemerals. But come summer - I walk out in the woods and look up at the sea of red berries and I become a fanatical forager.

Wineberries are delicious. Tart and juicy - they resemble a raspberry most but are in the blackberry family. They were undoubtedly brought here as an edible ornamental and like many guests, have stepped slightly beyond their boundaries. I am certain they are squeezing out other native plants, but because they don't climb the trees and choke out everything in sight, they are not at the top of my eradication list. And also - it's worth saying again - they are edible. I can pick these and enjoy a tropical-esque treat without adding to my carbon footprint. And I figure eating them can be our containment strategy until we have time for more drastic measures.

A couple weeks ago Dexter and I watched a show about what the world will be like in a few decades. I don't remember the title (he would) but one little factoid stands out. The show stated that if all people in the world consumed a diet like that of an average American, it would take four earths to feed us all. Four. No wonder people hate us.

Since it isn't likely that we'll find three more earths in the near future, I've been thinking about eating more ethically. I don't really mean the ethics behind how my food is raised - though that comes into it - but the impact of my food choices. How can I eat, and feed my family, in a way that is at least closer to our fair share of the world's resources? I can promise one thing - the answer has nothing to do with Atkins.

So, this year, I've redoubled my foraging efforts, and I have been really enjoying my wineberries mixed with quinoa, a little cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey. If you haven't tried quinoa - it's an amazing seed that can be cooked and used like any grain (think rice, or couscous), but packs a complete protein punch. I haven't converted the kids - but I'm going to keep trying. You can find lots of great uses for quinoa here:

Prairie update:

My prairie is not only up - it's blooming! Of course it is coming in a bit spotty. The section we were able to drive over with the tractor after seeding is thick and full of flowers and grasses, while the other areas are still pretty thin. I'll reseed late summer/early fall, and maybe this time I'll get some kind of big roller so I can pack the seeds down into the dirt a bit. I'm waiting for a few more flowers to bloom - then I'll post some photos.