Country View: John Kallas – Learning to eat wild – Portland, OR
We love hearing from our listeners, and sharing their stories with you. Today we're featuring John Kallas,whose exploration as a child led to his career today.
Photo courtesy Wild Food Adventures
Radio interview source: John Kallas, Instructor/Author, Wild Food Adventures
Kids love to explore and pretend, especially outside. John Kallas grew up rubbing sticks together to make fire and building forts. He wanted to learn the same skills as Native Americans.
Later, his interest expanded to include looking for edible wild plants that most of us would consider weeds. This skill came in handy when he backpacked across Europe with little money. By the end of the trip, all of his vegetable matter came from wild plants. When he returned home, his extensive knowledge became well-known.
"The academics at Michigan State University where I was going at the time asked me to teach a class on wild foods," he says. "And so I developed that, and was teaching there for years before I moved out west, and then decided that hey, I should make this into a career. This is putting all my interests together."
John is now the director of Wild Food Adventures in Portland, Oregon. He teaches others how to recognize and eat common vegetation growing around them, and relishes each of their discoveries.
"The first day of our big feast that we make, I have them do nothing but work with the plants in their most basic form," says Kallas. "So we're just eating it raw, we're boiling it, we're tasting it, we're learning its properties. And then the second day, I challenge them to incorporate those plants in dishes that the plant reminds them of. So for instance if something reminded them of spinach, then what's your favorite spinach recipe – make that."
John says all wild plants are basically one of two things: imported European vegetation that we now call weeds, or indigenous plants that were eaten by Native Americans. He says these are just normal foods that we've lost touch with over time.
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