The intersection between wild foods and farmer's markets can be a tricky one.
When we had the great opportunity of teaching a natural world activity at the Chappaqua Farmer's Market- I was excited. Farmer's markets are excellent places to find good local foods- from the delicious cheeses and baked goods, to the squashes and leafy greens, you really get a chance to explore the flavors of the seasons.
At the end of the day, when we finished teaching our activity and the vendors were packing up their stands, we had some time to shop for our dinner. Acorn squash? Yes! Kale? Mmmm delicious. Fresh Rosemary and Sage, fragrant as can be? Of course!
And then we saw the wild mushrooms. Perched next to farm-grown oyster mushrooms and miyatakes, sat three small bins of wilted golden chanterelles. Immediately my mind jumped back to my experience foraging for Chanterelles in California with some old dear friends. Those mushrooms were juicy and full and fresh, these were dry and a bit shriveled.
However, they were here. We started talking to the vendor about where they were harvested, the vendor said they were from Goshen- so local, but I had no idea if the forager had given thanks for them. I had no idea if the patch had been picked clean, or if the harvester left 2/3 of the patch as is customary.
It was the end of the day and vendors were packing up their goods. I had every reason to believe that these mushrooms would be thrown out with the rest of the spoiled produce, and somehow it felt wrong to leave them to that fate. So they came home with us.
Later that night as I was slowly chopping and dicing our day's 'catch' I thought to myself more about what these Chanterelles mean and how the difference between wild and domesticated foods. Although I am grateful for all the food that graces my plate, my gratitude extends further to wild foods. Wild foods, which take no cultivation on our part, are more of a gift. They decide where and when to grow, and although we can be caretakers of these wild spaces, we offer very little in the way of energy to cultivate their growth.
While exchanging money for farm grown produce seems natural and right, that same trade for foraged foods doesn't feel as comfortable. They are a gift given unto us, so monetary means just doesn't feel like giving equal thanks.
Why did we ultimately decide to buy these foraged goods? Because in this case, it would be worse, more of a dishonor even, to let them go to the trash.
After our delicious meal was cooked and on our plates, before we dug into the tasty food before us, I gave thanks yet again. Thanks to the farmers who grew the squash and other goods, and thanks to the soil for sprouting the mushrooms; thanks to the water and rains that allowed the chanterelles to grow, and thanks to the plants sitting on the plate about to nourish me.
Late Summer Chanterelles and Acorn Squash:
Eric's Grateful Roasted Veggies- late summer edition
1 Acorn Squash
1 Bosc or other sweet pear
1 healthy handful kale
1 Large carrot
2 healthy handfuls chanterelle mushrooms
8 rosemary leaves
8 leaves fresh sage
Cinnamon, Salt, and Pepper to Taste
2 Tablespoons Butter
1. Preheat oven tow 350 F
2. Peel and cut Squash into 1 inch cubes
3. Cut pear and carrot into 1/2 inch cubes
4. Spread cut produce on large baking sheet and sprinkle with diced rosemary and sage, and seasonings to taste. Cover with sliced butter.
5. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes
6. Wash chanterelles and cut away any
slimy, bruised or tough pieces. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
7. Remove central rib from kale leaves and cut into 1 inch strips.
8. Add kale and mushrooms to baking sheet. Add more seasonings and butter if looking dry.
9. Bake additional 7-10 minutes until aromatic.
10. Serve hot with fresh bread or wild meat and thanks.