Urban Foraging: Rethinking the Human-Nature Connection in Cities
Keywords:urban foraging, human/nature dualism, environmental sustainability, Western diet, wilderness, solastalgia
This article examines foraging in urban areas – more specifically in Australia and tropical North Queensland – as an alternative mode of consumption for city residents. I explore urban foraging (the practice of gathering Indigenous and introduced edible plants from streets, parks, railway reserves, etc.) within the context of a human/nature dualism which defines humans and nature as opposite. Urban foraging, which takes its roots in Indigenous Australian foraging traditions, is becoming more popular today as individuals seek connection with their food sources. Underlying this trend is a critique of industrial agriculture and the Western way of eating, as well as a need for a more sustainable system. The industrial system obscures the origins of the foods it produces by processing them so they appear as products of culture rather than nature. The urban foraging system, through gathering wild foods, is an attempt to reconnect with nature in the middle of the city. I argue that taking responsibility for the food we eat via urban foraging and cooking is a way to connect to nature through food. The paper calls on individuals to rethink human-nature disconnectedness by digging deeper into the problem’s cultural roots to consider how urban foraging begins to undermine a binary human/nature philosophical imaginary.
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