Asheville, NC -- Outside of the tropics, southern Appalachia is home to the most biodiversity anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. So, it's no surprise why No Taste Like Home has been described as the foremost foraging experience in the entire country.
From learning how to safely identify and collect wild plants to having your haul prepared in one of five restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina, the tours they offer certainly have a lot to boast about. But as their expert guides will tell you, foraging is much more than a fun activity, it's a way of life.
CEO and philoso-forager, Alan Muskat, describes the ability to feed ourselves through wild foods as a birthright.
"Our mission is to help people feel at home wherever they are. And that's not just in nature -- the idea is that you can trust others. Whether they're humans, plants, snakes, bugs, or mushrooms: you don't have to be afraid of the world," said Muskat.
Their tours can last anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours. They teach you about anything you would need to know, from how to use the equipment to what kind of plants and mushrooms to seek. At the end of the tour, you get to sample what you've collected and take the bulk of what you find home. But if you so choose, you can opt-in to having your foraged goods prepared at a high-end restaurant like Asheville staple The Bull and Beggar.
As restaurant owner Matthew Dawes puts it, "not only is the food more nourishing, more meaningful, and more enjoyable, it also has a ripple effect that can help environmentally."
Muskat's self-described nature-education organization hopes to provide the public with a chance to take back our ancestral skillset, "When you forage, that is a spiritual experience: I belong here, I'm provided for, I'm at home...that's what I want people to feel."
Do not attempt foraging yourself without the guidance of experts, as it could be dangerous. As an old Croatian proverb reads, "All mushrooms are edible; but some only once."