Our specialized pickers (consisting of Indigenous people, women, youth, retirees, farmers, and professional foragers) are usually residents of rural or remote communities who respect the lands that support them. Only those wild foods that grow in great abundance and whose survival is not in danger are considered for harvest. Forbes Wild Foods also works with regional and northern wild food producers to help propagate rare wild food plants by reintroducing them to lands that need remedial attention, such as overgrazed woodlots and pastures.
A message from our founder:
"I have always had an intimate relationship with the natural world. As a child I would pick and eat wild berries, stuff my pockets with black walnuts and be the first in line with my net to test the cold waters of Lake Ontario when the smelts ran in the spring. Sixty years ago, Toronto was a small city and there were many opportunities the play in the ravines, along the bluffs, in the wetlands by the lake, along the rivers and in the meadows. My mother was a keen forager, so I took every chance I could get to go off with her into the forest to look for wild mushrooms, wild ginger, wild leeks and other foods. Every year we'd freeze some of this and preserve some of that. It wasn’t wild food to me, it was just food. About twenty years ago, as a member of the fundraising committee of Native Earth Performing Arts, I was involved in an event called a Box Social that proved very popular. Volunteers would each bring a box of food, wrapped so that no one could tell what was in it. The audience was asked to bid on each box and the winner would sit down to eat its contents with the person who brought it. You could end up with a piece of pizza and a coke, or get lucky and win a pie. For my box, I did up a three-course meal made entirely of wild foods, which fetched over $100. The excitement of the successful bidder took me by surprise. It started me thinking that it would be good if everyone knew what these foods were, and could pick or buy them.
Around the same time, a friend asked what I was doing that weekend, and I replied that I was going to pick chokecherries and look for butternuts. The puzzled expression I saw made me realize that this friend, and it seems most other urbanites, did not have a clue what our native foods were. This realization combined with my deep concern over the rapid hyper-development of huge parts of Southern Ontario led me to believe that perhaps people would pay more attention to the environment if they had a relationship with it through food.
So I started Forbes Wild Foods with the hope that it would engage people and their imaginations to value the natural world and to take whatever steps they can to cherish it and protect it. If we do not as a society do this, there will be nothing left for our grandchildren except the pictures and a few stories told by the elders. Just look at how much development has taken place in the last sixty years, then look ahead to it continuing for the next sixty years, and imagine our cities becoming twenty or more times bigger than they are now. Something has to be done, and my hope is that Forbes Wild Foods plays a role in preserving the Canadian wilderness in all its bounty."
- Jonathan Forbes
Only the best ingredients and most delicious recipes are used in Forbes Wild Foods products. By their very nature, all of our wild foods are organic. The only additives we use to preserve them are other edible foods, such as cider vinegar, organic sugar, or fruit pectin. None of our wild foods are subjected to artificial colours or preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, irradiation, or created as a result of genetic engineering — they are products of nature alone. We make no official claims about the many recognized nutritional or medicinal benefits of wild foods, but we do say that they all taste very good!
Each wild food we offer is harvested only where it grows abundantly in its natural habitat and far from any chance of it being contaminated.
“We don’t use foods that grow in parklands, conservation areas, near where people live, work, drive or farm commercially so as to ensure they have had minimal contact with any potential sources of pollution.”
Our harvesters are trained to gather in a way that does not threaten the survival of that plant in any specific location. Most harvesters recognize the importance of playing a stewardship role with the foods they harvest; and they know that a healthy, diverse environment is in the best interests of both humans and all other living creatures.