‘Food Cartographers’ Map Edible Plant Resources in Urban Areas Around the World

By Mike Pomranz |

© Juice Images / Alamy

Hey, city dwellers!  You have tons of amazing things to eat right under your noses! No, not that new Korean taco gastropub that just opened up on the corner. We’re talking urban foraging!

A lot of hullabaloo has been made recently about urban foraging, but a new short documentary produced by FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films reminds us that there’s more to the concept than figuring out how to survive off of acorns. In some cities, fruits like plums, pears and blackberries—which you might otherwise buy at a supermarket—are literally growing from the trees (because, yes, that’s where they all come from).

“Food Cartographers” is the first short in a 10-documentary series called “The Collectors.” This inaugural episode speaks to Ethan Welty and Caleb Phillips, the creators of Falling Fruit, a “massive collaborative map of fruit and vegetables”—an open-source digital platform that allows everyone to map free edible plant resources in urban areas around the world.

According to First We Feast, Falling Fruit’s database currently contains 869 edible plant species in 1,500 cities on seven continents, with about a thousand users logging in per day.

The organization hopes “it makes people see cities in a different light, as a place that really has potential for sourcing our food from.” With the world facing a potential long-term food crisis and with millions going hungry in developed countries as we speak, Falling Fruit sees their platform as an opportunity to help alleviate many of those problems, both in the present and future.

Just don’t eat that colorful mushroom you have never seen before.

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