Leda Meredith: A Foraging Expert

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Melina Hammer

Melina Hammer › Melina is a New York-based food photographer, stylist, and cook, as well as the blogger behind ...

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Foraging isn’t something most of us do on a regular basis…or ever, really. It takes a trained eye to recognize the good from the bad, the edible from the poisonous. Brooklyn-based author and foraging expert Leda Meredith has that eye.

Melina Hammer recently sat down with Leda for an interview in Melina’s “Luminary Series,” to discuss Leda’s thoughts on food, personal sustainability and her food role models.

I had the recent fortune to sit down with Leda Meredith. She is a sensation in Brooklyn known for her expertise in foraging. Leda is also an author, a regular columnist on food preservation, a botanist (ergo the foraging), a former professional dancer, and all-around smart cookie. She forages – if you aren’t familiar with what that means, basically she has been identifying wild growing edible and medicinal plants, harvesting them (with sustainability in mind, so there’s more to come back for year-after-year), and incorporating them into her daily routine – and has been doing so since she was 2 or 3 years old, when her great-grandmother wanted company as she gathered greens in Golden Gate Park across the street from her home.

Leda’s great-grandmother was the first generation to leave Greece, and lived the culture of local-seasonal eating. “To this day,” she says, “the Mediterranean way is people in hillsides picking greens – it’s the young people and the older people, the restaurant chefs, everyone. It’s part of the culture, because it is what is in season, and it just plain makes sense.” Leda leads regular tours and workshops in conjunction with the New York Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Sidetour, and a variety of other independent groups. She even has taught her own mother this age-old practice, paying forward – and all-around, really – skills that were commonplace practice well before agriculture came on the scene.

Currently Leda is finishing her latest book, Wild Edible Plants of the Northeast, a field guide from Timber Press. It will be available at bookstores later this year! She states, “This guide is good for the foodie and novice crowd looking to see what is available and in-season. There is a balance of enough information for proper plant identification, without too much so as to intimidate people.” I’ve contributed a few images to the new book and am eager to see it in print.

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What is one of the most important things to you right now in world of food?

Personal sustainability. Not just “yes I care about larger agricultural sustainability and general environmental sustainability” but personal: how my food choices impact the bigger world, and bluntly – if the sh*t hits the fan, do I have enough skills to take care of myself, do I know how to grow food? Do I know how to forage food? Can I share those skills? That is important to me.

Click here to read the rest of the interview over at Licking the Plate.

This interview originally appeared on Licking the Plate. It is partially posted here with permission from the author.

Have you ever gone foraging in your area?

Photo Credit: Melina Hammer