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Backyard Bounty: Unearthing Nature’s Nutritional Wealth in the Pandemic Era

Sunday, February 11th 2024 10:00am 1 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

In the wake of the pandemic, a significant shift occurred in American food sourcing habits. As COVID-19 led to empty supermarket shelves, many turned to their own backyards, discovering a wealth of untapped nutritional resources in wild foods. During this period, there was a notable increase in foraging activities across the nation, partly due to disruptions in the supply chain. Approximately one-fourth of individuals tried foraging for the first time, unlocking access to a variety of foods like mushrooms, berries, roots, and greens, which are often more nutrient-rich and abundant in polyphenols compared to standard grocery produce.

A study from upstate New York highlighted this trend, showing that over 25% of participants engaged in foraging during the pandemic, with 14.3% doing so for the first time in 2020. This aligns with a broader global pattern where up to a quarter of Americans enhanced their foraging efforts as a response to the pandemic. Such practices not only offer a solution to the homogeneity and vulnerability of the global food supply, which relies heavily on a few staple crops, but also promote self-sufficiency and food security.

Foragers often consume what they harvest, with many reporting an increase in their consumption of foraged foods since 2019. This rise can be attributed to factors such as more free time during lockdowns, a desire for food independence amidst supply chain issues, and the activation of local ecological knowledge during the crisis.

The health benefits of foraging are significant. Wild foods are an affordable source of essential nutrients, often containing substantially higher levels of vitamin C, polyphenols, and antioxidants than conventionally grown produce. They also tend to have fewer pesticide residues. Moreover, foraging fosters a connection with nature, offering both nutritional and mental health benefits.

Despite these advantages, foraging faces challenges such as restricted land access and the need for guidance on safe identification and harvesting techniques. State agencies and support organizations play a crucial role in facilitating responsible foraging practices.

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