Food for thought: Living abundantly

Regarding the Journey

I’ve been part of a foraging community for over four years. It all started during the COVID pandemic. I needed something; anything to offset all the new worries and threats, perceived or real. So, I channeled the new, temporary, isolation and social norms into learning. The woods and nature have long been my preferred venue to balance and restore myself. I decided to up my game and add a new skill — foraging. Gaining this newfound, useful knowledge opened my eyes to a new, broader world. I took a months-long online beginning class about identifying edible plants and fungi.

It began as a vehicle to fill time and learn. Foraging became my outlet. It gave me purpose and direction. It was a fun and interesting hobby. And it turned into a way of life.

I became familiar with the plants around us and how they can benefit us and plant life. Suddenly, even a common weed like dandelion transforms into an abundant food and health source. Dandelions have been shown to detoxify and regulate. They are a great nutritional source of immune boosters, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Fast forward to now. I just spent the better part of three days and nights at a foraging gathering. Imagine a community of 250 people who all come together for one purpose: to learn and use what nature provides, responsibly and sustainably. We all came from different lifestyles, values, and incomes. We came with unique levels of knowledge and foraging skills. None of that determined a person’s value to the whole. All were equally needed to complete this temporary community. No one was of less importance than another. Everybody had something to contribute. Everyone was valued.

We harvested, cleaned, and cooked our food. We learned, entertained one another, and told stories sitting around the nighttime fire. We shared ourselves, our goods, and our property. We grew both personally and as a community in those few days. We will forever share a bond and an interest in living more naturally. We used what nature provided without regard to how much money we earned or whether we could afford it; we lived richly and fulfilled.

On the last morning of the gathering, I sat with my coffee, appreciating the different members of this community I’ve become a part of so quickly and without reservation or application. I dare say every type of individual known was counted among us. One common purpose tied us together. And the fact that it was up to us to forage, prepare, and take care of everything for the best use of the community gave us a common goal. There was no jockeying for attention or public appreciation. There were no ribbons or rewards. We were there to learn, to grow, and to share knowledge so that others could grow and learn and share.

Ironically enough, this experience reminded me of a futuristic, science-fiction television series I’ve watched for years. Star Trek began the same year as I was born. My dad and brother would watch every episode rerun together. As the youngest, I wanted to be included. So, I’d cuddle up on the couch and watch with them. I think they were entertained by the imaginative nature of the series: full of exploration and adventure. I was, too. But, as I grew, and continued watching each new installment of the Star Trek franchise, my appreciation for their way of life grew.

At its core, Star Trek highlights the crew of the Starship Enterprise, a ship that travels the galaxy, searching for new life and civilizations. It is designed around a post-scarcity society. In other words, the inhabitants of Earth have no basic threats to survival, such as starvation. In the Star Trek universe, money is obsolete. Technology has eliminated material wants. In this future, people have the basics, so they don’t need to work to earn a living to pay for their basic needs. Money as we know it ceased. People live their lives bettering themselves and the community in which they live.

Neither of the above worlds are perfect, but both are better without currency. No one is driven by material gain. Things don’t matter; people matter. Can you imagine a world where we didn’t need to accumulate goods? A world where money didn’t drive our decisions?

The comparison between a foraging community and the Star Trek universe offers a timeless lesson: true progress lies in harmony, equality, and exploration. Foraging communities teach us the value of living sustainably, sharing resources, building relationships, and making decisions together. Similarly, Star Trek illustrates how mutual aid and eliminating scarcity can foster a society built on equality and cooperation. Both remind us that the quest for knowledge, understanding, and strong relationships is crucial for creating a more balanced and harmonious world.

Lesslee Dort, a native of northeast Michigan, is drawn to the outdoors to restore balance. A board-certified patient advocate, Lesslee firmly believes knowledge is power and learning is constant. She is always willing to help others help themselves. Reach Lesslee via email at regardingthejourney@lesslee.com. Read her here the third Thursday of each month.


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