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You see, my wife grew up in a Nebraska farm town, and I’ve heard her reminisce many times about the Forage Club, which she said all the kids belonged to, its proud symbol being a shamrock. I was never able to catch exactly what they did in the Forage Club, but she described it as wholesome. So wholesome it might have had something to do with her winding up in Chicago.
Now that I’ve read last week’s cover story on underground chef Iliana Regan, I have a better idea of what the Forage Club must be about. It teaches kids to live off the land. Everybody lives off the land in Nebraska, and to be honest it doesn’t sound particularly hard. They grow a lot of corn on the land in Nebraska, and plenty of soybeans, and then there are all the pigs and the cows milling about. To make the foraging even easier, the agronomists have taken huge strides in the area of pesticides, not the mention those genetically modified seed strains, which are spreading like wildfire. And then there’s the fabulous Ogallala Aquifer, which means plenty of water for the crops until it runs dry.
If you can’t live off the land in Nebraska, you can’t live off the land anywhere. I can understand Iliana Regan rooting around a Cook County forest preserve for mushrooms and garlic mustard—pickings are slim in Chicago. But in Nebraska you can stop on the side of a county road when the farmer isn’t around and forage for hours.
"Mix of the day: Jon Brooks's Summer Triangles," by Tal Rosenberg
"Dumpster diving," by Julia Thiel
"Ask a librarian, and then listen," by J.R. Jones
"The primitive urge to hunt is what drives us to art fairs," by Deanna Isaacs
"Mushroom hunting with Iliana Regan," by Julia Thiel