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Wild Food Foraging - Free Fruit For The Hungry Raw Foodist

Wild food foraging is a great way to save money on a raw food diet.

Although you can find wild berries and other fruit in the woods, I'm going to concentrate on finding the fruit that's growing on the margin's of society - back yards, abandoned orchards, and untended gardens. These sources are more abundant than you'd likely imagine, and often go to waste if you don't take an interest in them.

Beyond all else, the key to wild food foraging is conversation. People, even if they're not avid gardeners or fruit lovers, learn things through the grapevine that can benefit you. When you let people know that you're looking for fruit, you'll be amazed at what people know.

Wild Food Foraging - The Gift of The Elderly

Well over 90 percent of the free back yard fruit and vegetable bounties I've come across came to my attention because of people over the age of 70.

Wild Food Foraging ElderlyAnyone born before World War II is likely old enough to remember a world that lacked international produce shipping lines. During their youth, a large portion of the produce in their grocery stores disappeared during winter.

This state of affairs made them more appreciative of fresh fruit and vegetables. When international shipping lines really revved up and started delivering year-round tomatoes that tasted pasty and flavorless, older Americans had the experience of home-grown tomatoes to contrast them with, and to this day they're more likely to note their preference for garden-grown food.

Over the years this generation dutifully manned gardens and maybe even planted a fruit tree or two in their back yards. Now, getting older, they likely still plant gardens, but they may only want a few tomatoes and pieces of fruit from it and wish to give the rest away - this is where you come in.

I've had elderly people offer to pay me to pick the fruit off their tree and take it away so it doesn't rot on the ground! Their gardens may well be overflowing with vegetables they don't know what to do with.

So how do you find these elderly people? The best way is to strike up conversations. If they're your neighbors, start talking. Mention fruit and you'll have an in.

Wild Food Foraging - The Benefit of Exercise

In a car, the world whizzes by so quickly you probably wouldn't notice a fruit tree. At a stately 7-10 mph run, or a slightly faster biking pace, you'll find all sorts of trees are out there, though.

I especially suggest you run or bike through neighborhoods built before 1960, as these are more likely to have fruit trees planted in their yards.

Wild Food Foraging - Advertise And Check For Ads

Wild Food Foraging ApplesGuess who still reads newspapers? Yep, it's people over the age of 40, the same demographic who are likely to have a garden and excess produce.

One year as an experiment I placed a wanted ad in my local newspaper that went something like this: Wanted: free/cheap excess garden fruit, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach. Call Andrew: (xxx) xxx-xxx.

I got about a dozen responses and ended up turning down most of them because it was more than I could eat. Newspaper ads will cost you some money, but they're effective in reaching your key old-person demographic.

I once placed an ad on Craigslist and got no responses, although it's free and it might be worth a shot for you. Also scan for other people's free fruit offers on the site.

Wild Food Foraging - Find A Group

I find the growth of fruit-gathering organizations an extremely encouraging sign that the world is changing for the better. Here are a few of them you might want to hook up with.

Toronto - Not Far From The Tree
Portland - Portland Fruit
Portland - Urban Edibles
Vancouver - Vancouver Fruit Trees
Victoria - The Fruit Tree Project
Philadelphia - Philly Orchards
Los Angeles - Fallen Fruit
Oakland - Forage Oakland
Miami - Miami Fruit Gleaning
London - Organiclea (different setup)

A website which acts as a digital repository for harvest info on backyard and public property fruit trees all over the country is Neighborhood Fruit. Although their list is currently small, I'm hoping in time it will grow significantly.

Wild Food Foraging - Abandoned Farms and Public Land

At least in Connecticut, where I live, it's surprising how many orchards and farms have been bought by towns or open space foundations as a way of slowing over development.

Many of these properties sport still-productive-but-overgrown orchards. You just need to know where to look.

For instance, in this video I take you to overgrown apple orchard purchased by a nearbye town about a decade ago. I pillage is every fall, but can't eat even a fraction of the fruit there. I know of several more properties like this, and I'd be willing to bet the situation is similar in other parts of the the country.

If your town has an open space trust, start by perusing their property list online or by talking to an active member to see if they have any farms or orchards that might still be productive. Although towns might not advertise their open space, they probably have an open space committee. Find a member and ask them.

Although this sort of thing is rare on the east coast, on the west coast I've been to several city parks that sport fruit and nut trees. All you have to do is show up around harvest time and take whatever you like. 

Wild Food Foraging - Conclusion

There's a lot of free food out there, but if you want it, you're going to have to start networking, asking questions, and researching. But when you really get into it, you'll be surprised at how much free food is out there waiting for you to claim it.

Wild Food Foraging - Following Up

In addition to wild food foraging, learn how to buy food wholesale to save money.

Read how to store and ripen your fruit.

Learn about a healthy raw food diet.

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