Tuesday, January 23, 2018
   
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“Cooking Wild” For Kids

Category: Premier Issue 2012

As the executive producer of a new cooking and outdoor show called "Cooking Wild," I am repulsed by the idea of world hunger in general, not just childhood hunger. There are many wild foods outside our doors that could help feed the world, and you often don’t have to leave your neighborhood to find them.

Our programming portrays traditional family values with an emphasis placed on self-reliance and self-sufficiency. I created the show to teach people wild foraging of edible and medicinal wild plants, game, and seafood. We encourage families to take their children outdoors and teach traditional survival and recreational skills.

As a Native American, I learned early how to survive off the land, grow a garden, and preserve our harvest. These methods have been passed down through many generations since the beginning of time, and it is my wish to pass on these skills to those willing to learn.

It is surprising just how much kids enjoy foraging and learning the legal and safe harvest of wild plants and critters; it is an experience your entire family will never forget. You will be surprised how easy it is to practice plant identification, learn to fish and hunt, and observe wildlife by their tracks and habits. What a great fulfillment it is when you are able to gather natural foods from the wild. It is a delight to eat vegetables grown organically and wild meat without growth hormones and other chemicals.

It isn’t hard to get started. There are websites dedicated to wild foraging and local botanical clubs. There are numerous library books dedicated to wild plant identification—including edible and non-edible species—and countless wild food recipes. A bit of advice, however: Always make sure of proper identification of any wild plant or animal before eating, and try only a small amount to begin with in case of any allergic reaction.

You don’t have to identify every plant in the field. Begin by learning a few plants at a time. You will enjoy learning about new plants and their uses, as well as discovering the many different ways to prepare them. The same holds true with game and seafood: be legal, and be safe!

By enjoying outdoor recreation, your entire family will get more exercise, spend more quality time together, and learn a more self-sufficient lifestyle; it is a great accomplishment to be able to gather your supper from the wild.

"Cooking Wild" will demonstrate methods for foraging, hunting, fishing, and the gathering of wild foods by many knowledgeable people. A segment called “A Survival Moment” will teach you how to make an emergency fire for cooking and warmth, how to construct emergency shelters, how to purify potable drinking water, and what to carry in a survival pack when you go outdoors.

It is a shame that we don’t teach the skills of wild foraging and survival in schools today, as most young people in America today cannot tell you where the food they eat comes from or even identify one single tree or plant in their neighborhood. Our forefathers used these same wild plants for food and other daily needs, and so can we. We have forgotten these skills because it is easier to go to the market and purchase something mass-produced and wrapped in plastic than it is to go outdoors and harvest a more nutritious wild plant.

"Cooking Wild" will be airing on the Pursuit Channel starting in October, and plans are in the works for the program to air on other networks as well. For more information on stations and showtimes, visit the CookingWild.TV website.

 

Chaz Mikell is a Native American of the Seminole tribe. He is a professional actor, musician, and writer. He has written music scores and scripts for the Disney organization. His book, the Great Florida Ghosthouse Directory, was made into a documentary by PBS and later appeared on the Travel Channel. He is the executive producer and host of Cooking Wild.

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