Currently — March 23rd, 2023

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In honor of Women’s History Month, Currently is spotlighting the women and femmes who are—and continue to be—the backbone of the environmental and climate justice movement and pioneered the work to protect communities.

“To be less unacquainted with plants or more connected to surroundings because of me is a huge win. We take better care of the things we know.”

Alexis Nikole Nelson, or @blackforager as you may know her, is a TikTok and Instagram forager.

The Ohio native started experimenting with foraging content on her personal page during the pandemic, and now, she has over 1.2 million followers on Instagram, watching her eat prickly pear without stabbing herself, make goldenrod soda, sing songs about sassafras, and churn chocolate ice cream with ingredients from a tree in her neighborhood.

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nikole’s TikToks centered on how to find fresh ingredients and extend the life of groceries.

“Everyone was afraid of going to the grocery store when I started my TikTok foraging videos in April 2020. So I thought: Hey! Here are a few plants that are really common and probably growing in your neighborhood that you can gather, and maybe that’ll stretch your groceries a bit,” she told Bon Appetit.

Often donning butterfly clips and bright pink makeup, she not only teaches viewers how to cook with wild plants but also invites them to take care of the wildlife around them, take agency over their food and eating habits, and be self-sufficient. She emphasizes the importance—and need—for more hyper-localized food systems and reminds her followers of the joy in being part of a larger ecosystem.

“You don’t have to go full forager to reduce your environmental impact. Over the past few decades, society has trended away from a localized food system, toward a global one. On the upside, it’s much easier to find ingredients like star anise at the grocery store. However, access to tomatoes year-round means they’ve got a higher carbon footprint because they traveled thousands of miles to get to your plate. Even shopping at your local farmstand helps with lowering your carbon footprint; it’s also a little easier than identifying a plant and bringing it home to eat,” she told Bon Appetit.

—Aarohi Sheth

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