Food for Free: This Arizona Man Forages 78% of What He Eats – Modern Farmer

Mark Lewis believes food should be hard work. 

The retired economic botany professor and Arizona resident first learned how to forage food when he was a boy in Baja, California. His grandfather took him out into the desert with nothing but a knife and taught him how to identify hundreds of edible plant species. He’s been foraging food ever since, and with that has come a close relationship with what he eats, something he feels is missing in today’s world. It’s become too easy, convenient and cheap to buy food from supermarkets in the United States. Along with that, he says people have become entitled and expect to always have access to certain foods. 

“People need to be more thankful for the things they have. I think people have gotten away from that,” Lewis says. When people have to put hard work into finding food, they value it and they don’t waste it, he adds.

Lewis and his wife forage 78 percent of the food they currently eat. He says they used to forage 93 percent of their food, but they’ve started eating more at restaurants as they’ve gotten older. Their pantry is packed full of stems, seeds, nuts and other foods they’ve foraged, pulled out of their yard, or harvested on their farm where they grow 100 edible native plants. They gather duck and quail eggs, and hunt for squirrels, rabbits and pack rats. Lewis, a member of the Pajaspuypayem tribe, trades some of his food to other Indigenous tribes