4 Reasons I’m Teaching My Kids to Forage

{Today we have a guest post about foraging from blogger James Smith. James is a passionate blogger who loves to write on trending topics. If he is not doing anything, you will find him writing. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for more updates}


I’ll never forget the first foraging outing I took my children on. They were about four and six years old at the time (I opted to leave my two year old with her grandmother for a few hours). Following our guide along the trail we learned all about the local river ecosystem, local history and culture, and got to put our eyes and hands on a wide variety of plants – sharpening our observation skills in the process. The best part, however, was getting a chance to smash open raw ripe pine nuts with rocks right there on the dirt trail – an unforgettable first experience and one my son loved!

Teaching kids to forage local native food has numerous physical as well as psychological benefits.

Children become more aware of their surroundings. Even without a field guide or clear goal, foraging hikes with an experienced guide can help kids with their listening and comprehension skills. It also introduces them to new vocabulary. As they sharpen their observation skills they quickly learn to discern between different types of plants. They also eventually learn to make well-reasoned and well-explained decisions about their choices.


Foraging Instills compassion and understanding of the local ecosystem

We spend so much of our time indoors that we’ve lost touch with the world around us. We’ve also lost touch with a piece of our humanity that requires connection to nature. By getting outside, and getting dirty, sweaty, and observing our surroundings, we deepen our connection to the planet and the other creatures that live here with us. We learn that birds and other critters love fruits, berries, roots, and nuts too! That common bond we share is one that will help our children have compassion for all the animals and plants in their local environment.

Wild foods are nutritious

Contrary to what you may believe, most foods found at the grocery store, or even the garden varieties we grow ourselves, have been bred for color, taste, and palatability – not nutrition. Wild foods however, are often more nutritious – and this is evident in their, at times, slightly bitter taste. Higher mineral content and micronutrients make wild foraged foods healthy for us and a nice supplement to an already well-balanced modern diet.

Foraging food also helps instill a deep appreciation for the effort it takes to make and prepare foods that haven’t already been conveniently packaged for us at the grocery store. Give kids a rock or two and help them crack open a walnut. Let them grind their own flour from grains and seeds. Teach them how to make their own dried fruit. Make them climb and reach to pick fruit from the trees, or dig in the dirt for roots and tubers.

Let them truly experience the amount of activity and effort that goes into shelling one nut or grinding up their own grain for bread-baking. Once they know how much effort goes into it, they’ll begin to learn empathy for others who work on a daily basis to bring them their food at the grocery store in nicely packaged containers.

Wholesome exercise

There’s no mistaking that foraging is hard work. Even at a leisurely guided tour pace, hiking outdoors, trekking up and down hills and across rivers and bridges, is certainly a nice workout – and one that deserves all the tasty wild fuel you’ll find. Carry a walking stick for stability and encourage your children to go at their own pace.


A few final thoughts. When foraging out in the wild and in unfamiliar areas, be sure to keep a lookout for poisonous and irritating plants and animals. Stay on the trails as much as possible to avoid disturbing native wildlife. Wear loose, weather-appropriate clothing in layers to protect against the sun and any stinging and biting insects. Wear comfortable shoes with a strong grip. Pack a small first aid kit to cover the basics in case of minor cuts and falls. Also, be sure to bring lots of water and healthy snacks to keep you hydrated and energized.

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