In search of local ramps and morels + 3 tasty recipes

As the heat of summer approaches, many more delicious plants are appearing in the North. Cattails, with corn dog-shaped flowers, grow all over our swamps and shorelines. Although every part of the plant is edible, the young shoots are the simplest and most delicious snack. Similar to the young bamboo shoots I harvested in Japan, their crunchy texture and mild taste are perfect for tempura.

Like delicious desserts after a hearty meal, berries appear in our woods at the start of summer, and what could be more special than our wild blueberries? Their sweet and tangy flavor is something I crave every time I leave Northern Michigan. Many people use them in jams, sauces or even alcoholic infusions. Few places celebrate wild blueberries better than UP – at the annual Wild Blueberry Festival in Paradise, blueberries take center stage. The little berries became a staple of the local economy during the Great Depression, and today, with the tourism the festival attracts, they are just as important.

Our region is truly special and, for better or worse, an increasingly desirable place to live. As traffic increases and cities and towns in our region expand, our communities need these forays into the forest. There is nothing more healing for the individual or the group than food and nature. In the end, what represents more local pride than harvesting?

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