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0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f73a140000WMUK's weekly show on the literary community in Southwest Michigan. Between The Lines previously aired on Fridays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Between the Lines: Eating Wild

Jonathan Stoner

What others mow over, pull up, and toss into the weed pile, Lisa Rose adds to her dinner plate. Dandelions, cow parsnip, jewelweed and milkweed, honeysuckle, goldenrod, nettle, field garlic — these are just a very few of the plants Rose covers in her new book, Midwest Foraging: 115 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Burdock to Wild Peach (Timber Press, 2015).

The guide lists and illustrates plants of interest to foragers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Ontario.

Rose leads foraging plant walks and classes on edible and medicinal wild plants in the greater Grand Rapids area. With a background in anthropology and a professional focus on community health, she's made foraging a part of her lifestyle since childhood.

“Foraging and wild plants have been a part of my entire life,” says Rose. “I grew up just a few miles from the 'Big Lake,' and I had a family that was outside all four seasons. My mom kept a garden; she canned and preserved what we got out of the garden and farmers markets. But we also had wild Concord grapes, and I knew where the wild apples were. My first pie in college was mulberry pie. I’ve always had a really close relationship to the land around me.”

A conversation with author and foraging expert Lisa Rose

Rose is also the author of Grand Rapids Food: A Culinary Revolution (History Press, 2013). Rose says it's her call to take up a shovel, dig into the earth, and create change in our food system.

"We need to learn how to be better stewards of our resources. Gardening is empowering people. The book is a call to action to the people of Grand Rapids to do more, to sit down at the table to talk about the economic impact on our community when we connect to place, when we grow our own food."

Credit Timber Press

Rose says she's traveled a "nonlinear path" to get where she is today. She started as a music major at Grand Valley State University but discovered she wanted to be outdoors as much as possible. Her interests moved her to a undergraduate degree in anthropology and French, and a master's in public administration and nonprofit management. Study and travel took her to Napa Valley and then to Berkeley, California, where she worked with Alice Waters, a chef and food activist. Then it was on to Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula, where she worked on an organic farm. Rose has also spent time in Latin America.

As far as weeds go, Rose says she doesn’t believe in them: “Everything has a purpose. I’m fascinated with the concept of gardening. Gardening gives us this sense of control, and we like this sense of control over life, over nature.”

Having recently moved from her urban home, where she kept a garden and operated a CSA (community-supported agriculture) producing edible and medicinal herbs, Rose finds she has returned more than ever to foraging. She's a runner with many marathons to her credit. As she runs, she often stops to pick some of this and some of that, or picks through the hedgerow.

“What others find weedy or invasive, I find beautiful and useful,” Rose says. “If I were stranded on a deserted island,” she laughs, “I would never go hungry.”

Listen to WMUK's Between the Lines every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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