I have to say that I was a bit annoyed by this tweet from Bread for the World.
The garden provides nutrition greens that do not need to be scavenged from the wild, improving nutritional intake for the household.
— Bread for the World (@bread4theworld) April 28, 2017
It’s not the promotion of gardening, of course. I’m all for gardening. It’s that word “scavenging,” with its negative connotations of rummaging through garbage. What’s so wrong about collecting edible plants from wild or semi-wild habitats? California’s native peoples used to do it, albeit as part of a very complex strategy of natural resources use and management.
Europeans viewed California Indians as having no concept of property, but they did recognize ownership based on usufruct of some resources, while setting others aside for communal purposes. Perhaps most important, as ethnobotanists such as Kat Anderson and Native Californians themselves remind us, they shaped the landscapes in which they lived through their extensive environmental knowledge, equivalent to our botany, ecology, ornithology, entomology, and more.
Chinese villagers in the Upper Yangtze still do it, and are saving the panda at the same time because of it.
“Wild harvesters are often some of the poorest people, because they don’t have access to land to farm,” says Natsya Timoshyna, the medicinal plants program leader at TRAFFIC, an anti-wildlife-trafficking organization that helped create FairWild.
Instead, these gatherers, like the villagers in China’s Upper Yangtze, are quietly responsible for maintaining the world’s supply of wild plants, a supply that provides medicine — as well as food — for up to 80 percent of the developing world.
And that’s just what has come through my feeds this week. Why not just use the term “foraging“? Am I missing something? Is support for wild-collected food seen as retrograde or imperialist or patriarchal?