The soil doesn’t ask for cash in exchange for the nutrients it gives to plants. You don’t have to swipe your credit card in the bark of a tree to pick an apple from its branches. And if that edible mushroom on a log asks to see your Bitcoin wallet? It's either fraud or you're hallucinating.
We’re so used to paying for food that we often forget that the earth creates it for free.
But a new generation of foragers is seeking to reconnect people everywhere with the intrinsic knowledge of Earth’s abundance, while building a movement of sustainability and food sovereignty in the process.
Foragers are exploring public parks, coastlines, mountainous trails, and even backyards to show people that delicious and healthy food can be found pretty much anywhere. Once their followers learn how to identify plants, fruits, mushrooms, and other edibles, they’re encouraged to become stewards of landscapes so that wildlife can grow indefinitely.
As soon as that happens, informed movements of environmentalists can take action to transform the global food system and avert climate catastrophe.
These might seem like lofty goals, but foraging is about renewing our sense of possibility. It’s about looking at an ordinary landscape, stepping out of autopilot mode, and seeing abundant life and abundant potential.
Many foragers on social media are specifically seeking to empower people from marginalized communities who have been historically excluded from having a meaningful relationship with the land. In this way, their work has a profoundly anti-racist and social justice bent because it’s giving opportunity to those denied it and rediscovering ancestral knowledge.
The main message of the foraging movement is that, ultimately, anyone can become a forager. Anyone can embody the principle of reciprocity with nature. And anyone can have fun while doing it.
Here are eight foragers you should follow to learn more about sustainably and food sovereignty.
1. Alexis Nikole Nelson
@alexisnikole One of my faves is BACK IN SEASON 🍄 #foraging#greenscreen#enoki♬ original sound - Alexis Nikole
Alexis Nikole Nelson, aka BlackForager, is perhaps the most visible figure in the recent foraging boom. Her infectious enthusiasm is enough to make you stop scrolling on TikTok and spend a few moments figuring out why she’s so happy. By then, you’re hooked and you’re already on the road to becoming a forager.
That’s because Nelson is brilliant at explaining how to look for specific plants, what they can be used for, and how to prepare them. She makes foraging seem eminently doable, irresistibly tasty, and endlessly exciting.
She has videos for finding wintergreen berries, chanterelle mushrooms, and sea lettuce; for cooking with acorns, puffball mushrooms, and unripe walnuts; and explaining why foraging is a form of social and environmental justice.
2. Rob Greenfield
The world needs more Rob Greenfields. He’ll show you how to forage for all the food you’ll ever need to survive, how to transform your lawn into an abundant food garden, and how to form vibrant communities premised on mutual aid. Greenfield’s YouTube channel and Instagram page are a one-stop shop for "food freedom," community empowerment, and finding joy in nature.
Greenfield also recently published a children’s book called Be the Change that seeks to “empower and educate young people and fill them with hope.”
3. Alessandro Vitale
Alessandro Vitale, who goes by the name Spicy Moustache on social media, wants to teach all urban dwellers how to create natural oases on windowsills, kitchen counters, and concrete outdoor spaces. His social media pages and YouTube channels show people how to grow various fruits and vegetables, how to easily locate edible food in urban spaces, and how to cook delicious food.
Vitale also stresses that his pages are for beginners because he, himself, only developed a green thumb after many failures.
4. Maya Bolduan
@mayakindamischief Can’t believe my luck 😍 #wildlife#nature#fyp#raccoons#keepwildlifewild#foryou#cute#wildlifesightings#babyanimals#raccoontok#wildanimals♬ Witch Familiar (Classical) [Classic](143628) - dice
In a video on foraging for wild grapes, Maya Bolduan (aka Mayakindamischief) spots some raccoon babies who take an interest in her. They’re fluffy, playful, and cute, but she doesn’t pet them or feed them her grapes because “we have to do our part in keeping wildlife wild.” That’s one of the central messages of her TikTok — it’s great to engage with the natural world in a more intimate way through foraging, but we can’t bring the steamrolling tendencies of our society into wild ecosystems. If you take too much of a plant or mushroom or berry, it might stop growing and then everyone loses. While her page features numerous videos on how to spot and prepare wild substances, she also stresses the importance of foraging in moderation.
Follow her on TikTok.
5. Chef Zu
@kingsapron Harvesting Medicinal Roots from our small Container Garden. Ginger, Turmeric & MORE #fyp#herbalist#plantmedicine#harvest2021♬ Composure (feat. Hit-Boy) - Nas
Jadakiss, Nas, Ghostface Killah — these are some of the artists that Chef Zu, also known as KingsApron, plays in videos that showcase foraging, cooking, aromatherapy, winemaking, medicine making, soapmaking, and much more. Based in Atlanta, Chef Zu practices various crafts that revolve around nutrition, plant-based health, and deep respect for the planet. His page is aspirational, showing what you can accomplish with passion and dedication, but he also offers workshops where he shares his knowledge and wisdom in more depth.
Follow him on TikTok.
6. Megan Howlett
@thegardencottage What’s your favourite thing to do in January? ✨🌲 #foraging#foragetok#cottagecore#mushroomforaging♬ Everybody Wants To Rule The World X Electric Love - darcy 🦦
Megan Howlett, who goes by The Garden Cottage on social media, starts many of her videos by extending an invitation to the viewer to join her. That generous spirit carries forth as she describes how to identify various natural goodies, what their characteristics are, and sometimes shares historical anecdotes. Howlett also has a series breaking down what can be foraged in different months of the year. She’s based in East Sussex, but her tips and insights have broad application.
Follow her on TikTok.
7. Aanjaneya Chaturvedi
@aan_an_adventure What's your favorite sport fish?#fishing#fish#bass#bassfishin♬ Campfire - Charmer & Klay
Throughout human history, foraging has usually taken place alongside farming, hunting, and fishing. Even today, many foragers also engage in other types of food collection. In Houston, Texas, the TikToker Aanjaneya Chaturvedi, also known as aan_an_adventure, is going beyond the city’s overbearing concrete and asphalt surface to explore its coastline and bodies of freshwater. While he forages plenty, his main focus is fishing. In his videos, he catches shrimp, crabs, and countless types of fish and shows people how to prepare some of them.
In an era where fish populations are being depleted at an industrial rate by massive trawling vessels, examples of subsistence fishers who respect the environment and the intricacies of ecosystems are essential because they help to show that humans can gather marine creatures in a sustainable way.
Follow him on TikTok.
@wildfoodlove The coziest holiday drink, forager style. @Foraged By Fern #hotchocolate#cozycore#wildfood#hogweed#darkchocolate♬ original sound - Mr Barbar
Wildfoodlove isn’t an individual forager dispensing tips and wisdom. Instead, it’s “a community of foragers & wildcrafters who harvest, prepare, cook, and store wild plants & fungi.” As a result, its social media accounts showcase an eclectic range of food collection and preparation from people around the world. You can learn how to make oil from balsam firs, sugar snow with maple syrup, conifer needle infused vodka, wild spiced hot chocolate, and much more. The page is a testament to the spectacular diversity of the planet and the seemingly boundless potential for food cultivation and collection.