the edible city

The urban harvest is starting to come in. For those in the know the city of Whitehorse can provide a cornucopia of local, tasty, and surprisingly affordable edible items.

The urban harvest is starting to come in.

For those in the know the city of Whitehorse can provide a cornucopia of local, tasty, and surprisingly affordable edible items.

Now this column is not about those with home vegetable garden plots or with lots at the community garden.

Thanks to the amazing growing season the southern Yukon has had so far, a bumper crop should be on the way.

Nor is this about the Farmers’ Market.

It is open Thursday from three in the afternoon to eight in the evening at Shipyards Park.

This time of year there are some locally grown vegetables and processed goods such as cheese, bread and pies.

And this column is definitely about more than just certain dumpsters outside certain eating establishments and food stores.

These can be a veritable haven of stale, bruised and perhaps even nibbled edible items.

Of course dumpster divers beware.

Numerous city bylaws are no doubt being broken every time something is scooped out of a commercial dumpster by a member of the public.

And the food quality and health regulations inside garbage dumpsters are not exactly up to code.

Instead, this column is about Whitehorse being an edible city as related to the ancient skill of gathering, as in hunting and gathering.

Those with keen eyes will have noted that this year’s mushroom crop looks particularly promising.

A walk along wooded areas will reveal the fungi in all their glory.

Picking mushrooms can be somewhat similar to gathering food from a dumpster.

It is pickers beware and pluckers be informed.

Learn from someone who knows what Yukon mushrooms are edible, what will cause a stomach ache and what type might do something worse.

Investing in a good mushroom guide would also be a wise move for the gourmand gatherer.

As an aside, next year is starting to look good for morel mushrooms.

The spate of forest fires within the territory will provide appropriate terrain for morel growth.

Some of the spots will quite close to Whitehorse, perhaps permitting day picking trips for residents.

Not only are the fungi looking good but it would appear that this summer is going to be great for berries.

This applies both to the plants growing in the forest and surrounding hills and also to their more urban cousins.

There are many spots within Whitehorse that are rural and remote and have great berry picking spots.

No, a listing of them is not available.

Berry spots are usually kept secret and only shared with the most intimate of friends.

The urban spots are different, as most of us walk, bike or drive past them everyday.

Most publicly accessible urban berry spots are in alleyways and they are starting to bear fruit, especially with raspberries.

If one knows where to look, wild strawberries can also be spotted.

Now there are unwritten rules about alleyway harvesting.

For the first time, this newspaper is proud to provide them in print.

First, do not pick every raspberry in a site.

Just as when harvesting berries in the bush one should leave some for the bears the same should be done in the alleyways.

The odds of bears showing up in downtown Whitehorse are actually quite good, but the point is to leave some berries for those other large omnivores, humans.

The second rule of alleyway harvesting is to pick on foot.

There is nothing more silly looking than watching vehicles, especially expensive ones, slowly prowl the alleys.

They stop whenever a good picking patch appears and often harvest away with the engine still running.

Not quite what one has in mind when one thinks locally gathered and thus environmentally friendly food supplies.

The third, and final, rule is that one should try and share what one has gathered for free.

If nature in her bounty could be so generous to the gatherer, it seems only fare to pass some of that harvest along.

Of course, in the case of wild strawberries rule number three could be interpreted a little more loosely.

It is hard to share those delightful little mouth bursts of flavour.

Perhaps consider the third rule as more of a guideline.

Here is wishing everyone a good harvest and bon appetit.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse based part-time environmentalist.

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