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, Hiking.org
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
Walking combined with fruit picking can make walks all year much more tasteful
Free drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt, Hiking.org
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.
Being food competent means knowing how to live of the land
Text and CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt, HIking.org
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.
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
CreativeCommons Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt
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 ( FoodisFree.org ) 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.
Combining hiking with wild food for locals and hikers
Text and CreativeCommons licensed drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt
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…
Supporting local farmers and cultures along the hiking trails
Text and 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.