How to Forage for Free Food With the Falling Fruits App
The great outdoors? Not for me. Exercise? I'm going to have to pass. Free food? Now you're talkin'. If there is any way to get my attention, it's with free food, above all else.
Foraging integrates all of the above into one wild ride that you will not regret partaking in, young, old, or anywhere in between. You can learn a little bit about plants and a lot about your own neighborhood along the way.
What Is Foraging?
To anyone who grew up in the city, the notion of picking food from wild plants is probably enough to make you gag. When you get away from the urban sprawl and the sweet, sweet stench of domestic dog urine, however, you will be delighted to know that there are plenty of ways to get your self-reliant fix on your own.
Foraging is the art of capitalizing on natural sources of food in their primal, undisturbed state. Apple trees, real honey, berries, and even seafood that washes ashore all fall under this heading. There is a spiritual emphasis on sustainability, respect, and coexistence.
It is extraordinarily difficult to describe the feeling of hitting it big to somebody who has never tried it. The desire for more is all-consuming and impossible to forget.
The word "foraging" will usually refer to wild food found growing out in the public domain, but others will expand its definition to also include freegan foraging in metropolitan receptacles such as dumpsters, as well. User discretion is always advised.
Foraging is a seasonal activity. It is community-driven in a lot of areas, and there are rules for what is acceptable and what is not within those communities. In a general sense, the rules of foraging are:
- You should take only what you need; avoid over-depleting a resource or destroying the fruit-bearing plant.
- If you can't identify the plant, you probably shouldn't eat it.
- Stealing from private property is not okay.
How do you find wild food? The answer used to be that you just kept looking until you stumbled across it. Now, with the help of an app designed to allow foragers everywhere to share knowledge with one another, it's as easy as zooming into your hometown on a map.
And that app is Falling Fruit.
What Is Falling Fruit?
Falling Fruit is a nonprofit organization devoted to the global foraging scene. A full-scale virtual map of the world is populated with foraging recommendations from real users who have struck gold and want to help you do the same.
Falling Fruit does not claim to be the first of its kind, but one of its charter missions is to be one of the most complete and global efforts in the category. Many of the documented spots in the app actually hail from datasets that the creators referred to when first building the app.
No stone is left unturned here, making it one of the most comprehensive collections of foraging knowledge at one's disposal.
The platform is run by a team of academics who believe that it takes a village to put on a feast. Food justice, innovative technical solutions, and establishing a culture of personal well-being are all pervasive and recurring themes throughout the project. Falling Fruit's ethos is that technology and living a healthy lifestyle should both walk hand in hand.
How to Use the Falling Fruit App
The Falling Fruit app, upon first inspection, is unassuming enough. A virtual map rife with orange geotags that will show you where the locals go when they want to chow down. You can either step into any of the geotags that you see for more information, or you can zoom right to your own location by tapping the crosshairs in the lower right-hand corner.
The gear symbol in the upper left-hand corner will roll out the sidebar menu. Here, you will find different options, many of them similar to the terrain and route options found on Google maps. You can choose your language, your units of measurement, and whether or not your list of geotags includes tree inventories.
This is the app in map mode. At the bottom, you'll have the option to look at everything as one scrollable list. Hit the toggle to see everything in more detail.
This mode is useful if you know what you're looking for, but you're not sure where to find it. Much like in map mode, selecting an entry will pull up all of the available information about that spot.
The battle-tested veteran foragers among us are almost certainly ready to begin sharing what they know with those just getting into the game. It's easier than sending a Tweet—you can begin by tapping the geotag symbol at the bottom left-hand corner of the app and selecting the location that you have in mind on the map.
Now, you have a chance to specify what there is to find, either by colloquial name or by genus. There is a field where you can add a description of the area, including any special instructions for how to find it. The verification toggle will be for the next user; you add your tip to the map, and, when somebody takes it, they can verify it using this function.
The dropdown directly below tells other users whether the source is on public or private property; some of the private entries will be added by landowners who welcome foragers to their bounty.
The status slider shows whether or not the fruit was ripe and ready to be picked when the entry was added. There are also quality and yield indicators and an option to add photos of the spot, as well.
Does Falling Fruit Really Work?
I'll admit it: I didn't believe the hype when I first heard about it. However, please let me be a personal advocate for this extremely effective foraging tool.
In the name of investigative journalism, I have gone out of my way to verify the veracity of several of the claims in my own area. Not a single one has yet proven to be false or out of date.
Here, you will see the glut of mulberries that I acquired on one of these excursions. Most impressive to me was the sheer abundance of the experience. Highly recommended.
Summer Has Only Just Begun
This post is not sponsored in any way; consider this your honest and wholesome free ticket to an excellent summertime hobby, no matter where you live. So stake your claim and earn what's yours with the help of Falling Fruit.
It's economical, educational, and, most importantly of all, a great excuse to get away from the computer for the afternoon. A little bit of fresh air will do you and your crew some good.