As a Black American content creator and forager, Alexis Nikole Nelson was vocal in a September 2021 interview with NPR about her interest in educating people about the fraught history of edible plants within Black communities. In response to negative Facebook comments on the article, Nelson put out a video the next day titled, “Let’s talk about race and food.”
“We need to talk about how none of our food — wild, grocery store, whatever — exists without context.” She goes on, “To say that foraged food exists without any relation to race or culture is not only disrespectful to the indigenous folks who helped a lot of our ancestors learn the lay of the land, [but] it’s also disrespectful to our ancestors who brought a lot of their plants over.”
Regarding a comment from a white reader that expressed annoyance at Nelson’s intent on examining the cultural origin of edible plants, Nelson explained, “A lot of our Black ancestors had foraging forcibly taken out of their hands by means of more strict trespass laws in the 1800s.” Using examples like quinoa, tomatoes, and corn, Nelson concludes that foraging encourages consumers to think about all of the people involved in the food they eat. The next time you go picking blueberries or hunting for chanterelles, keep Nelson’s lessons in mind.