Saturday, January 31, 2009

Flax seeds again

In my travels round our suburb, I've so far found only one flax bush out of many that has really delicious seeds. Mostly they are quite thin and black-coated and bitter. But this particular bush has pods that are shorter and fatter than the others ...

And most of those pods seem to contain very sweet, white, meaty seeds ...

I don't know what this means though. I don't very well understand the taxonomy of flax. From what I've read there are two native species growing in New Zealand - and within those species there are many subspecies and varieties, and an enormous amount of genetic variation.

I keep hoping to find another flax bush around my locale with delicious seeds, but so far no luck. My sister has suggested I break off a fan of leaves from this particular plant, and try to grow it in our backyard.

I would have to ask the owner's permission ... The only reason I could get these particular seeds was that a big stalk of seeds had broken off and was lying across the pavement.

Changing the subject a bit - one thing we tried doing with these seeds was dry-roasting them. Flax seeds must be a bit tricky to dry roast I think, because they are so mucilaginous. We did two batches. The first turned out quite okay. The second, not so good.

Would be interested to hear from anyone else who's tried this.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The economics of urban foraging

I'm doing a show-and-tell about foraging for the next Wellington WAPF meeting. Then a few weeks later I'm going to lead weed walks during a Farm Day at our CSA.

Both organisations are keen to focus on the 'free food' aspect of foraging. And yet - I'm not sure if many of us in urban areas could manage to save more than a few dollars a week out of our food budget by foraging. (Although of course in tough times, even a few dollars are vital.)

Maybe even more to the point, I'm thinking that if lots of people in urban areas started foraging for any economically significant quantity of food, then supplies would rapidly deplete.

Still - I do think there are important economic benefits to foraging. The main one is that it keeps you out of other more expensive and consumerist mischief.

Although foraging is a bit of free food, it's better than that. It's a free hobby. It's as solitary or as social as you want to make it. It's educational. It gets you out of the house. It's family friendly. It can be challenging, or meditatively relaxing, or both.

Such endlessly absorbing free activities are in short supply in the city, and frankly I think it helps me save more out of my entertainment budget than anything else.