I find that it is worth mentioning how frustrating and exhausting this process has been. Throughout the many phases of this project —choosing a topic at what felt like the eleventh hour, scrambling to execute my methods, and transitioning to an online-based education format— I have pushed myself to maintain a consistent and sustainable schedule. After the burnout I experienced with my former topic on nonconsumptive outdoor recreation, it’s a relief to find an approach that, despite the grit required, leaves me in a place to look forward.
The weeks I’ve spent with my nose in Pacific Northwest foraging materials and wild foods cookbooks have already begun to show their impact. I’ve developed the habit of crushing a plant’s leaves or needles between my fingers and raising them to my nose to develop a deeper sensory profile of my surroundings. While this subtle and almost mindless practice a portion of what originally drove me towards the development of a wild foods capstone, I’ve started picking of the plants, nibbling on them, and taking note of their flavor profiles. This is especially acute as the recent warm weather is causing an explosion of dandelions in my yard; I find myself contemplating how to best use them in place of items I would gather a standard grocery run.
Perhaps the most useful portion of my capstone development has been the intensive study of preexisting work required to develop the theoretical basis for my capstone. A large portion of this impact is the direct information I gathered, ranging from philosophical approaches on nature versus wild to analysis of the relationships between diet and health. This has already shown itself useful in the most unexpected places and will undoubtedly lead me into a wider array of discussions that relate or allude to the topics of wildness, diet, and food in their many forms.
As the exact topic of wild foods is a fairly limited field (although a common hobby), I doubt the trajectory I gain from completing this capstone will translate explicitly into the next steps of my life, career-wise or in higher education. Instead, the curiosity I have garnered for the topic throughout this process will lead me towards meaningful engagement opportunities. As of now, this curiosity lies with organizations and people that are navigating the intersections between the outdoors and our plates, fulfilling a desire to more deeply understand the ethnobotanical undertones that have enveloped my work.