Part of the process of being a Quincy resident for 5 years is becoming informed of, and maybe getting involved in, activities that the local community is doing in areas that generally interest me. Last week, I met an ex-lawyer turned environmental activist at Nick's wedding, who told me about the Quincy Environmental Network. They are a local non-profit with a thrust on preserving and creating more open spaces within the city. Part of their mission is environmental education. I attended an event today which was built on the latter theme.
A lot of us may have spent time wondering how we would survive in the wake of a natural or man-made catastrophe. After nuking the pet cat and stir-frying the leather couch, what will we look towards for our sustenance? Iris Weaver (the tour guide) pursued this line of thought to it's ultimate conclusion and determined that if something grows -- unattended, uncared for -- in our back yard, it's a message saying that we need to connect. Instead of spending money on weeding products and services, and spending a fortune on vitamin/mineral supplements, just connect the dots - eat what you are paying to dispose. Not only are these plants edible, but they may often have medicinal values that have not yet been fully conquered/commercialized.
There is a lot to write about but to keep it short, my deepest impression from the guided tour (through an area adjacent to the salt marshes) was from sumacade - a tart drink that one can make out of sumac (the non-poisonous variety, identified by red berries as opposed to white). It can be sweetened (based on preference) and drunk hot or cold. The very thought of going hiking through beautiful scenic trails foraging for sumac is making me thirsty.
In case one is left with the understanding that it's only about squeezing berries to create fruit juices, I have to add that I went to a cooking demo at the library following the walk. There, Iris conjured up Apple Crisp, Pesto, a stir-fry and sumacade using mostly wild edible plants. I found all of them very tasty. Maybe it was not "fine dining", but both the pet cat and I are relieved to know that when unknown assailants attack us with their WMDs, I can hunker down and just eat all the dandelions in the backyard. I know we have a plentiful supply to keep us happily fed for a long time.
Some pictures of the event can be found here