There’s good reason to be excited… Both National Aboriginal Day and the first day of summer are just days away! As part of your celebration plans why not head out on a wild berry picking adventure? Picking wild berries can strengthen your connection to the land and is a great opportunity to be active outside with family and friends. Plus, food tastes so much better when you’ve harvested it with your own hands.
Berries have been an important part of First Nations and Aboriginal culture in BC for thousands of years. They have been used for both food and medicine.
- As a food, wild berries are nutritious and delicious. They can be eaten out of hand, tossed into a salad, added to baked goods, or be turned into jam or jelly.
- The nutrient content varies by the type of berry, but in general wild berries are full of vitamin C, antioxidants and fibre. Some wild berries are also good sources of vitamin A (e.g. gooseberries), iron (e.g. black currants, elder berries and saskatoons), calcium (e.g. rosehips), and folate (e.g. salmon berries and blackberries).
- Wild berries are juicy, sweet, tart and sometimes sour. They’re sure to put a smile on any face.
- Many First Nations and Aboriginal communities use the fruit, leaves and roots of various berry plants as medicines. For example, wild blueberries and cranberries have antibacterial properties and have been used to help prevent urinary tract infections.
There are SO many kinds of berries in BC to harvest: Bilberries, blackberries, blueberries, bunchberries, cloudberries, cranberries, crowberries, currants, elderberries, gooseberries, huckleberries, Oregon grape berries, salmon berries, soapberries, strawberries, raspberries and thimbleberries. How many have you tried?
Before you head out on your berry picking trip take time to familiarize yourself with the look of both the berry and leaves of the plant. Use a guide like this one, or seek guidance from an experience picker or Elder. This will help you correctly identify edible berries and avoid those that may be toxic. When in doubt, don’t eat it.
Remember: Wild berries aren’t as abundant as the farmed berries you find in the store, so be sure to leave some for other people and animals to eat. Ready? Now get out there!