Editor's Letter: Let's Stay in Touch

A few favorite follows, plus highlights from this week

Morning, Midwesterners. I’m Midwesterner editor Jed Portman. This is my free weekly editor’s letter, a supplement to the work from paid contributors that we send to subscribers at 8 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If you like what you see here, please consider signing up for a monthly or annual subscription. Your subscription dollars pay our contributors. To learn more about our model, go to Midwesterner.com.

Y’all I am so ✨painfully mediocre✨ at finding shrooms so this is honestly what it’s like EVERY TIME I stumble upon one 🤣🍄
#chickenofthewoods #sulphurshelf #laetiporussulphureus #midwestforaging #wildfood #blackforager #blackforager
September 16, 2020

For the last few weeks, I’ve been celebrating the end of summer by sending out contributors’ seasonal how-tos in place of my typical editor’s letters. In this miserable year, I’ve never felt more compelled to recognize what distinguishes one day at home from another, or to highlight small opportunities for adventure and discovery.

I know that many of you are juggling work and kids while reckoning with the unending parade of horrors on the news, but I hope you’ve found time to go for a walk in the woods or put up a batch of dill pickles this year. If not, well, our farms and gardens aren’t dead yet, and black walnut season is still ahead. You have time. Pretty soon, though, our tomatoes will freeze and our last walnuts will drop. Our trees will lose their leaves. Our ponds will ice over. We may end up cooped up again, as we were this past spring. That’ll be a good time for us to inspire each other virtually.

I was thinking about that when reading Monday’s piece from Alexis Nelson.

At the end of May, I got a text from a friend and colleague who has become my TikTok guru—the New York-based writer and editor Max Falkowitz. He sent a video that kicked off with an irresistible intro: “Hey! Want to learn how to make sorbet out of one of the world’s most invasive plants?” The charming, high-energy how-to that followed had my attention even before I read Max’s follow-up: “She lives in the Midwest.”

That’s how I met Alexis, based in Columbus. Her exuberant approach to foraged foods—going far beyond pawpaws—can make even rangy and obscure harvests like invasive knotweed look as tasty as heirloom tomatoes. I’m always excited to catch up with her on Instagram, where she posts videos for those of us who can’t figure out TikTok.

September 24, 2020

In the darkest days of winter, we can still use Instagram to check in with Alexis, who will no doubt keep sending inspiring dispatches from the woods, and with other Midwesterner contributors, like Iliana Regan and Elliott Papineau. Iliana’s posts from her Milkweed Inn, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, have me saving up for a reservation, and I’m always inspired by Elliott’s harvest photos from The Farm.

You never know what beautiful and tasty things you’re going to find on the @unitedtribestechnicalcollege campus! This is Shepherdia argentea...golden and red buffaloberry! Buffaloberries have a completely unique flavor that I can only describe as fresh/sweet/tart. If you’ve never tried a handful of this amazing fruit, put it on your bucket list. Most tribes don’t harvest buffaloberries until after the first frost condenses the fruit sugars and makes them much sweeter. However, I love them in their tart glory! #buffaloberries #shepherdiaargentea #foodsovereignty #unitedtribes
August 6, 2020

We’ll keep sharing photos from Midwesterners including regional-eats expert Titus Ruscitti, North Dakota ethnobotanist Linda Black Elk, and Adrian Lipscombe, a chef and urban planner posting pictures from her farm and her garden in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. If you don’t already follow us, click here to sign up. Together, even if we’re stuck at home, we’ll continue to build our family and define our Midwest.

What we’ve published in the past week:

As always, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, please e-mail me: jed@midwesterner.org. I’d love to hear from you.