Updated: Dec 20, 2022
There has been more and more information nowadays telling us about how eating a plant based diet or a diet that is more heavily based on plants than meat is better for your health. To help you adopt this lifestyle, I want to tell you how to eat a tree! But before you go out and try to take a bite out of the first tree you find, let me clarify what I mean exactly.
Humans have not evolved to digest wood, which means not only is it not digestible, but it also just doesn’t taste good. But there is a layer between the bark and the wood, called the cambium, that has nutritional and medicinal benefits. This part of the tree is responsible for the transfer of water and nutrients through the tree, so there is a lot of energy packed in that layer. In some trees like black birch, pines, and spruces, this layer can be very soft and spongy, making it easier to chew and digest. You can eat the bark raw, but some people also crush it up and use it as a flour. It can also be boiled like noodles.
In the winter, one of the only living things you can find are evergreen trees such as pines and spruces. They are easily identifiable because of their needles that stay green throughout the year. Those needles are also filled with nutritional benefits such as vitamin c. They also are a decongestant and an expectorant, meaning they help clear your airways of mucus when you have a cold. To access this, all you have to do is steep the needles in with some tea or honey, which extracts the helpful properties.
Foraging is fun and is a beautiful way to exercise our connection with the environment. Many people get discouraged in winter because there isn’t as much to find. Winter can be a great time to forage because the number of choices of things to find is less overwhelming than in the spring and summer when everything grows.
Please read below if you are considering trying to forage for tree parts after reading this!
Trees are living organisms that have been around for much longer than humans. They have adapted in their own unique ways and need all their parts to survive. When foraging, it is important not to take too much. When foraging for tree bark, it is best to look for a recently fallen tree, and when looking for their needles, look for branches that have recently fallen but the needles are still green. These practices will ensure a healthy relationship between you and the trees who provide so much for you. We are out to live in harmony with the natural world, not overuse it.
“How to Eat in the Woods” By Bradford Angier