As I slowly ascend the vibrant and healthy moss-covered hillside, I methodically scan my immediate vicinity with a patiently focused gaze. It doesn’t sound terribly difficult, but in fact, it is. What tends to happen otherwise, is a desire to greedily expand one’s gaze far off into the distance, trying to cover as much ground as possible in the shortest period of time. What we neglect to notice is that as we do this - as we substitute efficiency for expediency and patience for production - a multitude of treasures and gifts pass us by unnoticed. Haste is the enemy in the life of a forager. The more I think of life’s treasures and gifts, whether they be in the form of a Chanterelle mushroom or self-reflected epiphany, the more I recognize the manifest necessity for stillness.I’ve been foraging for wild foods since I was a child. I grew up eating, preserving, and cooking with wild mushrooms, truffles, berries, vegetables, and greens. I remember distinctly, and on more than one occasion, being paralyzed by fear as I watched my seemingly intrepid mother frantically bang her pots together to scare off a gigantic black bear that was invading her most prolific brambleberry patch. I then spent years traveling the remotest and untamed regions of North America, living off the land and foraging wild foods professionally.


As I bend over and kneel down, I notice that the ground is still wet from the early morning thundershower. I lay my basket beside a dense patch of Chanterelles, just barely breaking through the skin of the forest, which happens at this time to be bright, almost fluorescent, green moss. Carefully cutting the stem of each precious mushroom I become aware of how this simple act ignites a passion and excitement to continue connecting with food and nature in a more visceral way. There was nowhere else I’d rather be than on my knees in that wet moss-covered hillside filling my basket with honest, pure, delicious Chanterelles, their aroma permeating of ripe apricots and white pepper. Making my way out of the forest in a particularly dense span of coniferous trees, I’m a little annoyed at my lack of foresight in picking a most difficult route to exit. It is however immediately relieved by my recognition and appreciation for a fruitful foray. In just a few hours my basket is full and I feel overwhelmingly excited and grateful.


There are countless reasons why it makes sense to live in this space and follow the fruits of the land when in season, but, to be honest, the main reason I continue to forage and probably always will is quite simple, I love it, I love everything about it. So in 2004, with nothing more than a few nickels and a strong desire to succeed, my two partners and I started Mikuni Wild Harvest, which is today one of the largest companies purveying wild foraged foods to the most celebrated restaurants, chefs, and specialty food stores of North America. This lifelong passion has become a calling, a calling to bring the world of wild foraged foods to the forefront of the American consciousness and my work is far from done.

The delicate balance of life is defined by our ability to recognize the synergy of all that is with all that we are. We are all in some way or another hunters and gatherers. Living inside us resides a spirit for adventure, romance, and connectedness; we need only to believe in ourselves and we can reinvent the sustainable traditions of (local) farmstead culture. We can fall in love with the simple pleasures, one Black Truffle, Huckleberry, or Chanterelle at a time. Whether you’re in Charleston or Chicago, Seattle or Sarasota, the forests, parks, meadows, and fields are teeming with honest, flavorful, unique, and wonderful ingredients to adorn your dinner plate, you simply need to know how and where to look.