For thousands of years the First Nations of the northwest, including the Coast Salish, ate via a "seasonal round" from the bountiful shellfish, salmon, camas, berries, seaweed, and greens. What were these foods? Where did they grow? How did they contribute to human and ecosystem health? How were wild foods managed for sustainability? What ethics did people apply to gathering, processing and eating wild food? In this course we will explore northwest native flora and fauna in the context of “wild food” across time, cultures, and ecosystems. Our class time will be a combination of outdoor explorations in the Salish Sea watershed and indoor discussions based on readings, films, guest lectures. You will learn to identify, sustainably forage, process and prepare a variety of wild foods with a modern twist via two feasts we make together with wild food. We will also look at indigenous traditional food culture against the backdrop of Colonial settlement, industrialization and agriculture. How did Indigenous food cultures and Settler food cultures--interface and impact one another? What factors have contributed to the loss and degradation of Indigenous food wisdom and wild foods over the last 150 years? Today, many wild foods are threatened due to the introduction of invasive species, contaminants, climate change, and the loss of traditional ecological knowledge of how to use these foods. How can we reimagine a more vibrant, contemporary Salish Sea wild food culture--informed by Western science, traditional ecological knowledge/science, and local knowledge keepers--that promotes connection, reciprocity, community and individual health, and biodiversity?
TEXTS: Handouts, on-line papers, and two REQUIRED BOOKS: (1) THE EARTH'S BLANKET: Traditional Teachings for Sustainable Living by Nancy J. Turner, University of Washington Press; (2) BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Milkweed Editions, 2015. TWO OPTIONAL TEXTS: (1) PACIFIC FEAST: A Cook's Guide to Coastal Foraging and Cuisine by Jennifer Hahn, Mountaineers/Skipstone Press, Fall 2010; (2) PLANTS OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST COAST (any edition is fine) by Andy Mackinnon, Jim Pojar, et al. Lone Pine Publishing.
CREDIT/EVALUATION: Students are required to: participate in class discussions and have regular class attendance; write 4 critical reading pieces (2 pages each, based on readings, to prompt deep discussion); complete two hands-on projects: A) a wild food harvesting/cooking project (eg., legally/sustainably gather/process nettles for pesto and share with class) and B) build and use an earthen pit fire for roasting root vegetables; and, last: compile a 10-page minimum “verbatim research paper” on a wild food species; present a 15-20 minute "Final Project" based on the latter research (past projects include writing a children's story on nettles; creating wild harvesting songs for kids; designing an interactive computer model for state parks on wild food; designing seaweed ID/harvesting cards, etc).
Outdoor excursions during our course time will occur several times a month, plus 1 field trip to Ebey State Park for Seaweed ID, Ecology, Cuisine on Whidbey Island May 8 (Fri) or May 10 (Sun/Mother’s Day). Details on assignments will be given in class.