Jodie Baltazar

The author of Głodni Zielonej Warszawy, a guide to foraging in the city, spills the beans on her unusual pastime…

How did the foraging begin?

I started in LA in 2008 and when I got to Warsaw it was natural to continue. It was also a great way to get to know the city. In fact, I found the plants more welcoming than the people.

What tasty surprises have you found?

One of my favorites is burdock, a root used a lot in Japanese cooking of which I am an aficionado. I’m also very fond of garlic mustard, chickweed, lambs quarters, and wild arugula. Warsaw is simply just chock full of fruit: cherries, apples, pears, and dozens of different kinds of berries.

What misconceptions do you hear about foraging?

Perceptions are heavily influenced by cultural factors, so the attitudes I’ve encountered here are quite different from those I’ve encountered elsewhere. In a nutshell, more people here perceive foraging to be something that should not be done in a city because of pollution. Like most things, there’s no simple answer, but by following a few guidelines, it’s certainly safe to forage in cities. Generally speaking, people everywhere are pretty disconnected from what is right there in front of them and are surprised to find out that there’s more than grass out there.

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