Sketching up local eating ideas

Edible landscapes and wildfood

Drawing up concepts for edible trails and local food supplies as a path to better relationships between locals and hikers

By Frits Ahlefeldt,

New innovative movement are working to reconnect people to the local landscapes in many ways. One of them is through what has been called “The local food movement”

Drawing of hiking trail with food
Food can help locals and hikers relate along the trails

Combining hiking with local eating

We need to get much better at connecting hikers to locals and the landscapes – and food is a great way

Text and drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Just came back from a food fair, watching people connect over food. Is there any more genuine way for hikers to both connect to the locals and the land, without words? – simple by follow the old saying: “you become what you eat” sharing food experiences. And, instead of relying on freeze dried food from nowhere, in the backpack,  relate through tasting the land and the local ways of eating, together with people who live their lives along the trails 

Drawing live from a food fair
Eating together is a way hikers and locals can use much more
drawing of people celebrating food together
Eating is a wordless way of relating both to the land and to each other
hiker and farmer talking food along a trail
Hiker and farmer relating over food

Wild food a growing trend (drawing)

Walking combined with fruit picking can make walks all year much more tasteful

Free drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Woman picking fruit from a tree
Picking wild food along the hiking trails

In the summer and fall, you can find a lot of different wild fruits, both berries and other species to be enjoyed at the spot. Or you can pick them and bring them back home, to prepare ( conserve, freeze, concentrate, sweeten, dry them etc. ) to turn them into jam, or mix them with nuts as trail-mix, grains for breakfast, or put on bottles for warming winter soups and drinks.

Cool way to make homemade, tasty and free wild snacks and vitamin / energy boosters to bring along on walks the rest of the year.

Fodie hiker

Being food competent means knowing how to live of the land


Text and CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

People closly connected to the places they walk in often have a unique knowledge of edible species of herbs, vegetables, fruits roots and other foods.
And a growing number of hikers, goes out in the landscapes, not only to watch pretty scenery, but to connect to nature through more challenging ways. One of them is to taste the landscapes. 

Strange thing is that this is actually one of the ways you can really become one with a place… Not only simply because you become what you eat, but also because the sense of taste (strongly related to the sense of smell, among others) is more hardwired directly into our subconsciousness than hearing and seeing. And we can actually “record” many more dimensions of a place by tasting it, while walking, than we can just by seeing it.

So next time you go hiking… try open your mouth to taste the experience much more.

Teaching kids about food outdoors on the trails

Hiking give kids appetite, both for learning and for eating healthy food

Text and CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Children like to explore, learn and understand nature, and there are many ways to help them do this outdoors, one of these are designing food-trails where they can learn about the vegetables, the soil, the fruits and the herbs they can find, taste and bring home to their families to make dinner much more local and connected to the place they live

Drawing of the day for the food-trails project

drawing a trail teacher learning kids about edible plants
Learning kids about wild food, nutrition and the environment on the food trails

Free to download and use the drawing under CreativeCommons By-ND license


Wild food and hiking

Eating local while hiking often means wild food

CreativeCommons Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawing of hikers picking wild fruit and food
Wild food as a new trail dimension in hiking

When on a hike you often pass by lot of nutritious food, especially on forest and back country trails. Places where people throughout history have been able to live off the land by knowing and supporting the thrive of a wide variety of species

Combining trails with support for endemic food species could both make the backpacks lighter, the locals and hikers healthier and everybody less dependent on plastic wrapped, fossil fuel transported industrial foods, from thousand of miles away.

The local food sources, fruit trees and other tasty alternatives are as if designed to grow right there, the soil often not used anymore, and the hiking trails are in place… giving access to these places. Why not combine this to upgrade our understandings, wild food sources and health  for free?

Learning from the “Food is free movement” 

There is already a huge and fast growing trend to support wild and free food, the whole “Food is free”
movement is taking off globally ( )  and more and more people are joining in.

It is just to take all these new understandings of local eating, community building and small scale farming –  And combine them with the ancient trail understandings of nomads and hikers, to create a much lighter and more sustainable way of hiking and supporting local life at the same time.

Growing wild food along the hiking trails

Combining hiking with wild food for locals and hikers

Text and CreativeCommons licensed drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Combining hiking with wild food

Hiking is better if you are hiking light, and fresh wild food, fruits, nuts and herbs spice up the taste and don’t weight you down… so why not support local species of fruits, nuts and herbs along the trails, turning hiking trails into edible trails?

Locals, especially the elder often know where to find good, wild local resources of wild food. Berries, herbs and other vegetarian fresh and taste species, that can be enjoyed along the trails.

But commercial farming has made many of these species endangered, all over the world. To help the endemic species, and even enjoy the taste of local food is something that could not only help hikers go much lighter, but also help locals keep alive their traditional and varied sources of food.

There is a great potential in creating edible trails, both for nature, locals and hikers…

Eating local food when hiking

Supporting local farmers and cultures along the hiking trails

Text and CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawing of a plate with local food
Putting local food on your plate, when hiking, CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Ultralight hikers have made science out of freeze drying, dehydrating and in other ways minimizing the weight and volume of the food fuel they carry with them… But on many back-country, coastal, lowland and culture trails there is an even lighter – and in many ways better option: don’t carry your food, instead support and relate to the locals by heading for the small villages, the local farmers markets, organic outlets and the small ins, cafe’s and other food places  along the trails,  to experience the local food and support local communities and culture

Relational eating is a fast growing movement,  all about knowing and relating to the local landscapes, places and people behind what we eat,  and this trend is close related to local eating, sustainable food etc.

Benefits of eating local, when hiking

There is a lot of good things about eating local, both for the environment (less transport, cooling and plastic ).  For the farmers (getting a better price, new friends and more fun ) And for the hikers ( getting fresh, tasty, local, exiting experiences – and relating, hearing stories and understanding the land  and cultures they pass through much better )

Benefits for the trails

There is another very good reason – it make better trails, because the locals gets inspired in many and new ways, and both start to use the trails themselves –  and start to protect and make them better.

Some hiking trails have understood this very well, and even made the trails go through as many small villages as possible, one example is the Camino de Santiago (St. James Way, Spain).

There are many other examples of  new and restored hiking trails, where the effect on local culture and life, of a steady steam of hikers coming through, is very positive:  new markets spring to life, new eating places open, music in the evenings, restoration work on local monuments and attractions suddenly make much more sense etc.

It often start with what hikers choose to put on their plate...

One of the most important ingredients in creating these new culture experiences along the hiking trails start with what hikers choose to eat when hiking.

Eating local food is in many places the best option, not only for the hikers but also for all the hikers coming after them…  helping to build up and sustain thriving communities and local farmers along the trails benefits both the hikers, the locals and the hiking trails.