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Urban Fruit Foraging 101: Finding Good Free Food In Your 'Hood

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There’s one thing that all of us have to do day in and day out: Open mouth and insert food. Piece of cake, right? (Oooo, that sounds good.) Fortunately, the physical act of eating happens to rank exceedingly high on the master list of life’s basic pleasures, but before you nom-nom your way through that slab of chocolate rum tres leches, the sobering powers that be continue to remind us that there are a few common sense nutritional rules and regulations to follow for optimum health and wellness. Major buzz kill when all you want to do is disappear into chocolatey goodness.

Not that the glorious cacao bean is all bad. A hot-off-the-press study suggests that in addition to its well-known powerhouse antioxidants, a blissful 100 grams of dark chocky – when enjoyed after intense physical exercise – enables the body to rebound from oxidative stress. Yeah, that’s all well and good, but now I’m jonesin’ for that piece of cake. It’s got chocolate in it, though, so it’s mostly pretty healthy overall. Right? Hmm? Anyone?

Way to justify. When it comes to weighing the pros and cons of the foods that we bring into our households, there’s often a nagging, oh-so-sobering voice of reason that tries to drown out the deep dark edible chatter cluttering our heads.

I want a box of Twinkies. I need a box of Twinkies. I have to have a box of Twinkies.

No…you really don’t. That’s just your feeble mind playing tricks on you. Stay strong by envisioning the healthy oomph of a crisp, juicy apple. See? Works like a charm.

After the rough week I’ve had at work, I deserve a box of Twinkies and an econo-jar of Nutella. Screw the apples.

Not so fast, bucko. Eat a couple of carrots instead… they’re naturally sweet and will instantly make you forget all about your unholy cravings.

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From the Organic Authority Files

Surely you must be delusional. Now I’m upping the ante to snack cakes, choco-spread and glow-in-the-dark cheese puffs… in fact, I’m gonna break into all of them the moment my cashier hands me a receipt.

Think about your arteries… I implore you to do the right thing!!

Just watch me do the right thing to this bag of Cheetos!!! (Fade out to maniacal laughter.)

Of course, there’s something to be said for fresh fruit. It’s nutritionally angelic and quite honestly, it tastes pretty darned good going down. Plus, there’s actually a pretty nifty way to get more of it into your diet without suffering the monetary consequences of today’s inflated price tags. Urban Foragingwhooo-hooo! In a nutshell, you can gain access to public fruit trees in your neck of the woods, the edible jewels of which might otherwise go to waste. All at absolutely no cost.

Think of yourself as an urban recycler. There are countless private and public property owners who have fruit bearing trees on their land but they either lack the desire or means to harvest it. In effect, you’re doing them a favor by making the most of a natural resource that, if allowed to go past its prime, can actually make a heck of a mess, and in some cases can even cause easily preventable wildlife-vehicular collisions.

So, are you ready to get your fruity mojo on? Thanks to the following organizations, accessing fresh free produce in your neighborhood is easier than ever:

  • Neighborhood Fruit – which now has a convenient mobile smart phone app – enables fruit tree property owners to post info about the availability and ripeness of their juicy edible jewels for the public at large. They also offer a comprehensive nationwide map for fruit foraging seekers.
  • Fallen Fruit specifically benefits Los Angeles residents thanks to their ever-expanding map of public fruit trees that are ripe for the picking. Unlike similar organizations, their commitment to food rescue goes a bit further through their community jam making/fruit-infused alcohol workshops, fruit tree plantings and evening tours of fruity-licious neighborhoods.
  • Harvest Sacramento takes a slightly different yet equally beneficial approach by enlisting the help of volunteers to harvest neighborhood fruit for food bank donations. They also offer workshops that teach fruit tree owners how to make the most of their sweet bounty and even throw community potluck meals featuring excess gleaned produce.
  • Village Harvest is yet another California-based community fruit organization that utilizes a well-organized team of volunteers to glean fruit goodies before distributing them to those in need, including charities.
  • The Sunshine Coast Fruit Tree Project offers British Columbia residents the opportunity to harvest, preserve and distribute fruit from public trees to various charities and individuals who put it to good use.

Image: Kelowna09

For more juicy green goodness, follow Elizah via Twitter @elizahleigh

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