Forbes Wild Foods is a Canadian company that supplies wild, hand-picked foods to restaurants, farmers markets, hotels, gift, food, and health stores, and to internet customers. All our foods are harvested from the Canadian wilderness by trained, knowledgable pickers who practise progressive harvesting methods, ones that are sustainable for the plant species where it's found, for its surrounding ecosystem, and for the pickers themselves, whose livelihood is supported by a thriving source of wild foods.
Our pickers are usually residents of rural or remote communities who respect the lands that support them. They are Indigenous people, women, youth, retirees, farmers, and professional foragers. Only those wild foods whose survival is not in danger and that grow in great abundance are harvested. Forbes Wild Foods also works with regional and northern wild food producers to help propagate rare wild food plants by reintroducing them to lands that need remedial attention, such as overgrazed woodlots and pastures.
A message from our founder:
"I have always had an intimate relationship with the natural world. As a child I would pick and eat wild berries, stuff my pockets with black walnuts and be the first in line with my net to test the cold waters of Lake Ontario when the smelts ran in the spring. Sixty years ago, Toronto was a small city and there were many opportunities the play in the ravines, along the bluffs, in the wetlands by the lake, along the rivers and in the meadows. My mother was a keen forager, so I took every chance I could get to go off with her into the forest to look for wild mushrooms, wild ginger, wild leeks and other foods. Every year we'd freeze some of this and preserve some of that. It wasn’t wild food to me, it was just food. About twenty years ago, as a member of the fundraising committee of Native Earth Performing Arts, I was involved in an event called a Box Social that proved very popular. Volunteers would each bring a box of food, wrapped so that no one could tell what was in it. The audience was asked to bid on each box and the winner would sit down to eat its contents with the person who brought it. You could end up with a piece of pizza and a coke, or get lucky and win a pie. For my box, I did up a three-course meal made entirely of wild foods, which fetched over $100. The excitement of the successful bidder took me by surprise. It started me thinking that it would be good if everyone knew what these foods were, and could pick or buy them.
Around the same time, a friend asked what I was doing that weekend, and I replied that I was going to pick chokecherries and look for butternuts. The puzzled expression I saw made me realize that this friend, and it seems most other urbanites, did not have a clue what our native foods were. This realization combined with my deep concern over the rapid hyper-development of huge parts of Southern Ontario led me to believe that perhaps people would pay more attention to the environment if they had a relationship with it through food.
So I started Forbes Wild Foods with the hope that it would engage people and their imaginations to value the natural world and to take whatever steps they can to cherish it and protect it. If we do not as a society do this, there will be nothing left for our grandchildren except the pictures and a few stories told by the elders. Just look at how much development has taken place in the last sixty years, then look ahead to it continuing for the next sixty years, and imagine our cities becoming twenty or more times bigger than they are now. Something has to be done, and my hope is that Forbes Wild Foods plays a role in preserving the Canadian wilderness in all its bounty."
Only the best ingredients and most delicious recipes are used in Forbes Wild Foods products. By their very nature, all our wild foods are organic. The only additives we use to preserve them are other foods: cider vinegar, organic sugar, or fruit pectin. None of our wild foods are subject to artificial colours or preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, irradiation, or created as a result of genetic engineering. They are products of nature alone. We make no claims about the many recognized nutritional or medicinal benefits of wild foods, but we do say that they all taste very good.
Jonathan Forbes, Forbes Wild Foods
Dyson Forbes, Forbes Wild Foods
Seth Goering, Forbes Wild Foods
Jonathan is long-time forager, cook and food preserver, and the owner of Forbes Wild Foods. His working life has been spent largely on economic and cultural development issues with a focus on community-based policy. He started Forbes Wild Foods in 1998 to reacquaint people with indigenous foods that have largely been forgotten, and besides sourcing wild foods for the company, he currently spends his time writing, training pickers, and helping to build awareness for a sustainable and ecologically sound approach to the harvesting of non-timber forest products. He lives in the Noisy River Valley, a two-hour drive northwest of Toronto, where he has foraged wild foods for more than fifty years.
Dyson is Marketing Manager at Forbes Wild Foods. With more than twenty years of experience in film, television, and content creation, and over fifteen years in the food industry, Dyson has a unique set of skills suited to food marketing and education. He has worked with Forbes Wild Foods almost from the start. As well as marketing wild foods, Dyson leads foraging trips for small parties, and does presentations to chefs, student chefs, and organizations with an interest in food. He is involved in several on-line initiatives about food trends, farming and resource management, and cultural development.
Seth has more than twelve years of experience with foraging and selling wild foods. (Longer if you count blueberry picking as a child). He was mentored in the art of wildcrafting by Jonathan Forbes and went on to become Sales Manager for the company. In addition to working with chefs and restaurant owners, Seth is a constant presence in Toronto’s farmers markets, notably the Brickworks and Wychwood Barns markets, where he enthusiastically educates people about the wild foods they can add to their repertoire.
Each wild food we offer is harvested only where it grows abundantly in its natural habitat and far from any chance of its being contaminated. “We don’t use foods that grow in parklands, conservation areas, near where people live, work, drive or farm commercially so as to ensure they have had minimal contact with any potential sources of pollution.”.