Jeremy Faber ’96, Foraged and Found Edibles
You can catch glimpses of him moving swiftly through the forest toting a black sack. And if his determined step makes you think he knows just where he is going and what he is looking for, you’d be right. For Jeremy, the woods of the Pacific Northwest are familiar and wonderful. Once a forestry major at the University of Vermont, Jeremy credits his deep love of the forest and his love of food with shaping his culinary calling. As founder of Foraged and Found Edibles, he has spent the last 15 years combing the woods and coming up with the equivalent of gold. It was in late 2000, after a particularly prolific morel mushroom year spent in the Washington Cascades, that Jeremy finally decided on a career as a full-time forager. With the help of Christina Choi, a fellow chef, the business grew until Foraged and Found Edibles was supplying a multitude of wild foods for numerous Seattle farmers markets and local restaurants.
When he emerges from the forest Jeremy carries with him morels, cauliflower, porcinis, matsutake, and king boletes mushrooms as well as fiddlehead ferns, Miners lettuce, sea bean, wood sorel, elderflower, madrone bark, rosehips, wild ginger, nettles, huckleberries, and blackcap raspberries—riches in their own right. “Our passion for wild foods is what inspires us to supply the best of nature’s bounty, from mushrooms to wild greens,” says Jeremy. “We believe in the culinary and medicinal benefits of everything we offer. Our products are harvested throughout the Pacific Northwest, from northern California to southern British Columbia, from the Pacific Ocean to the continental divide.”
Jeremy sells to more than 100 or so restaurants like Sitka & Spruce in Seattle, Giulia near Boston, and The Spotted Pic in Manhattan. He recently opened a warehouse in New York City and Boston and developed an online ordering service through which pounds of wild mushrooms—both fresh and dried—are delivered straight to people’s kitchens the next day. The products are, “FedExed to you, anywhere in the lower 48,” says Jeremy.
He forages, along with one full-time worker and a few pickers from whom he buys items, up to seven days a week. He can easily put up to 100,000 miles a year on his van and you can only imagine the number of miles on his feet as he ventures into the woods to find the ideal habitat for the perfect mushroom or green.
Jeremy was introduced to foraging while working at the high-end, seasonally driven restaurant The Herbfarm as a sous chef under Chef Jerry Traunfeld who sourced nearly everything locally. The restaurant hosts an annual Mycologist’s Dream menu that depends solely on Jeremy’s foraging. But it’s farmers’ markets that provide the best profit margin—he sells at four of them each week.
On a typical day of foraging, Jeremy is in the woods near Mount Rainier from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. if the picking is good. Working alone he can cover 1,000 to 2,000 acres a day carrying a canvas backpack with an Adirondack-style basket inside that can hold 30 gallons, or 60 pounds of mushrooms. He relies on topographic maps from the U.S. Geological Survey and doesn’t use GPS devices. “I think they dumbify people,” he says. He does however carry a compass because he occasionally gets fogged in while working in damp forests. Other necessary tools include a small carbon steel knife by Morankniv, a pair of sharp scissors, and his iPhone to check the weather.
When asked about the rumors that foragers are destroying the bounty in the forests of the Northwest, he rejects the idea, explaining that the government regulates foragers by requiring them to purchase a permit for every food item they wish to take from the woods. And they are not allowed to pick in state parks or in wilderness areas in some of the states in which he forages. “Foraging done properly has zero environmental impact,” Jeremy says. “It’s completely sustainable.”
Passionately devoted to wild edibles, Jeremy sometimes talks about opening a restaurant that serves only wild foods on the menu. Till then, his work as a forager gives everyone a little taste of the wonders of the woods.