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August 24, 2019

ʻĀina Fest

aina fest sunny savage

Pinch me! I'm heading to Hawai'i Island for a festival I've wanted to attend for the past 9 years. And, I get to teach an educational workshop on wild foods while there. There are still tickets left, so whether you're on the Big Island or traveling from somewhere else, you can check out all the deets below for this September 7th event. I have plans for my workshop, but honestly I've learned from doing this wild food thing for so long that I can't go into the wild with expectations. I'll spend a day driving around wildcrafting in preparation for the workshop, making use of my unique gift of being able to spot plants while driving at 60mph. lol! Creator will put in my path what the people need, what message needs to come through at that time, and so I remain curious at what will unfold and what plants will want to come and play. This is also my ticket to the mauna, and I'm so excited to be in service, in kapu aloha, and to soak up whatever I can for 2 days at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu Mauna Kea for 2 days. kū kiaʻi mauna!

Link to buy tickets: https://ainafest2019.brownpapertickets.com 
Website: http://hipagriculture.org/aina-fest 
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2343642095686397/ 
Instagram: @hipagriculture

woman wearing prickly pear hat

Look at the prickly pear hat and hair clip on this beautiful lady. While in Arizona recently I heard about                            the upcoming 8th Annual Prickly Pear Festival ...so my Mom & Grandma checked it out last weekend                              and met this woman. I love plant people!

amazon lungs


From my wind to your wind
From my rain to your rain
From my forests to your forests
From my rivers to your rivers
From my lands resilience to your lands resilience
From my people's strength to your people's strength
I align my prayers with the prayers of thousands to the sky realm to call on the rains to soak the earth and end the fires started by the hands of greedy men.
I align my womb with the wombs of rainforest women who call for the return of dignity to our bodies and the great body of Mother Earth.
I align my lungs with the lungs of this planet and inhale and exhale in deep ceremony, in deep chant, and deep love.
Pule ʻāina.

-Hāwane Rios

July 27, 2019

Wild Foods in the Sonoran Desert

sonoran desert saguaros

The Sonoran Desert has always held a special place in my heart, as I learned to love it during visits with my grandparents. Now, I've been called to return and help in the care of my grandmother who has dementia. My mom has been her caregiver for the last 7 years and it is time for me to play a more active role. I will return again in December, and probably be making more regular trips to relieve my mom. God bless the caregivers! 

saguaro cactus fruits ripening

It's hard to pick favorites in life, but saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) cactus fruits are my favorite wild food. They contain fat and sugar, which is a pretty awesome combination! These beauties are protected, so it is advised that you connect in with traditional harvesters to be given permission and learn how to harvest in a respectful and appropriate way.

In 2007 I joined Stella Tucker out at her traditional saguaro camp, and this video documents her families way of harvesting and processing the fruits. Fast forward to 2019 and I just met a new foraging friend, Mark Lewis. Mark told Stella he was meeting me and she was like, "Oh yeah, that white lady who came out here all those years ago. I remember her!" So fun for me to reconnect, in these roundabout ways, with those of us who practice our love for the land. May Stella and her family be blessed in perpetuity, and the Tohono O'odam people, and the saguaros ♥

prickly pear red fruit perfectly ripe

The bulk of my wild food diet here in the Sonoran Desert right now has been prickly pear fruits (Opuntia spp). These magenta beauties have found their way into multiple rounds of barbeque sauce, margaritas, fruit leather, and so much more. 

grinding mesquite into flour in vitamix

In typical forager form, I traveled with a vitamin in my luggage. When it's 116° who needs many clothes, lol. I had heard the mesquite were dropping here, so I went from kiawe in Hawaiʻi to grinding my own flour here in Arizona. 

blue palo verde edible flowers

Palo verde (Parkinsonia florida) have also been on the menu. These cheery flowers are in full force here in the Valley now, a welcome addition garnishing our meals. 

foothills palo verde edible seeds

Foothills palo verde (Parkinsonia microphylla) fresh seeds have been a trail nibble as I just missed a more major harvest. Absolutely delicious, and easy to just pop open the pods and eat these nourishing and delicious seeds.

wild foods of baja paipai people

This new-to-me wild food was a gifted experience by Mark Lewis, my new foraging friend. Mammallaria albicans. It was Mark's "gateway wild food", as in the food that got him hooked on wild foods! He grew up in Baja, in his ancestral homelands of the PaiPai people. So much story, so much goodness.  

desert willow infused into water

And finally, desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) has been in glorious bloom. It really makes you wonder how...how can these plants and animals survive in 116° weather? But they do, and it is mind boggling and awe-inspiring. So much to learn, stories to share, but the simple act of participating in the dance of life with them is a great start. 

July 13, 2019

Sow Thistle Surprise

sow thistle (sonchus oleraceus) growing in iao valley

Sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) is a wildly nutritious green, this one found growing out of the rocks in ʻĪao Valley on Maui this week. In addition to it's edible leaves, the flowers, flower buds, and roots can all be eaten. Green Deane's Eat the Weeds - Sow Thistle article has wonderful details of its identification and history. The main parts I like to point out are the exaggerated terminal leaflet, which is the end of the leaf is typically large, and that the leaf hugs/wraps around the stem. Sow thistle is found growing along roadsides, disturbed areas where humans have turned the soil like construction sites and as a major agricultural weed (oftentimes more nutritious than the plants farmers are growing for market).

If you learn this plant in Hawaiʻi you will find that knowledge useful if you travel to other parts of the globe as well. It is a blessing to travel to other parts of the globe and immediately, after proper identification that includes a minimum of 3 identifying characteristics, have a wild food you can identify and eat.  

sonchus oleraceus hawaii sow thistle greens

Sow thistle growing in Haiku, Maui, Hawaii. They can sometimes have a blue-green coloration to the leaves.

sonchus gone to seed in hawaii

Sonchus gone to seed in Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii. Stems oftentimes turn purple.

sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) large leaves

Greens can vary from mild to bitter, with older greens definitely having more bitterness. Sow thistle can become quite large!

lobed leaves of sow thistle

One leaf of sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), which can have varying amounts of spines on them. There is a very spiny one found in Hawaii as well, called spiny sow thistle (Sonchus asper), and the species can hybridize/cross as well.

sow thistle (sonchus oleraceus) flower hawaii

Here you can see it's yellow dandelion-like flower, which is so typical of the Asteraceae Family of plants. This one found growing in Paia, Maui, Hawaii. 

Looking for a super adventurous foraging trip? Learn to identify kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum) by pulling it out for the Nature Conservancy at Waikamoi Preserve. This is a 4x4 only excursions, which they provide transportation for, up on the mountain and a phenomenal way to access this sensitive environment through service. You will see why we are trying to eradicate the kahili ginger, the scope of its threat to our endemics and the importance of tending these biodiversity hotspots. 

July 6, 2019

Foraged Fare

shell ginger edible flowers

Eating these firecracker-like flower parts of shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is an enjoyable explosion of color. Eat the labella, pulling away the whitish-pink perianths, when navigating this harvest. Hawaiian colors!

prosopis pallida harvest in hawaii 2019

The kiawe (Prosopis pallida) harvest on Maui continues to be phenomenal. We now have the remnants of Hurricane Barbara heading this way as a tropical storm. We are all going to welcome the rain, but it does dampen the kiawe harvest. Get out this weekend before they all get drenched and the mold sets in. 

June 29, 2019

WorldWild Podcast Interview

worldwild podcast with sunny savage

What a delight to be in conversation with Miles Irving of the WorldWild Podcast! Take a listen (skip to minute 6 to start of our conversation) as we discuss invasive species, the uniqueness of Hawaii's biodiversity, and our wild future ahead. Miles is the founder/owner of Forager, a phenomenal company that started selling wild vegetables to restaurants in the United Kingdom in 2004 and has since built this network linking foragers with chef's to include over 500 wild ingredients. 

kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum) growing on Maui, HI

It’s kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum) flower season. This is a short-lived season, only lasting about 5 weeks depending on elevation. Take a peek at the flowers and foliage in this video taken at Makawao Forest Reserve last week. Flowers can be dehydrated and made into tea, cooked into onion jam, used as garnish on a cocktail. All the things!

May 21, 2019

Eating Edible Invasive Species

100% local food in Hawaii

These delicious creations were served at our food truck. Both of these dishes were 100% locally sourced. On the left a wild boar saute with foraged greens, on the right gnocchi made with breadfruit flour, wild greens, olives and olive oil.

Welcome to Savage Kitchen!

In March of 2017 I ran a successful Kickstarter Campaign to help fund this project educating about edible invasive species. Savage Kitchen started out as a food truck where I served 100% organic foods (90% locally sourced) and where wildcrafted invasives were in each item on the menu.  You can see our food truck blog posts at our old website Savage Kitchen Maui to see some of our juicy creations, but this is where we’re adding new content as I get ready to launch our upcoming mobile app and online wild food courses.

If you’re interested in feeling confident while foraging, getting healthy recipes, natural medicine, plant identification, and emergency preparedness, please stay in touch through our newsletter.