by Cynthia English

We met at the Asheville Botanical Gardens for a talk, a walk and a commune with nature. Me and one of the foremost celebrated ‘foragers’ of our time, Alan Muskat. A complex man who invites his clients to live from love, not fear, and to begin that journey by experiencing the gorgeous tastes and comfort of ‘home’.

Foraging is a sensual experience. ‘An epicure is a natural among foragers, because they have all of the refinement of taste within their evolutionary dictionary and delight in the discovery of new and different. Tastes that live all around us. In fact, you can ‘epicure the obscure’ anywhere in the world.’ Alan accepts assignments internationally to speak to global wild foods, foraging and his 80/20 Principle. He can show you 5 things edible anywhere. And he wants to! The Basics is where Alan is focused. And he wants to bring as many of us globally back to them as possible. To make the world a better place.

There is scientific proof, Alan continues, that there was no aggression around our world for over 3000 years. Peace reigned. It has also been proven, when we live naturally, we are in a constant state of love and joy. We need to bring civilization back to the basics. Approach the earth in flow of the natural systems in place: Civilization working with nature vs against nature to provide for mankind. There is plentitude.

Where to start making a pronounced positive effect? Alan works through a number of platforms, 1) through his Afikomen Project for youth 2) through No Taste Like Home educational tours & marketplace 3) personal appearances/lectures & now 4) with his in-depth bi-annual 80/20 Retreat. Portions of the curriculum teach how to forage for food and profit by learning about the nature around each of us. To Alan, learning to feel safe and at home outdoors harvesting while being delightfully intoxicated by the variety and depth of tastes found in the wild is key to feeling protected and self-empowered. ‘It is all right here’, is a belief he holds fast.

How did someone graduating top of his class in Philosophy–Taoism, specifically–at Princeton University, become a forager? a) Childhood in a family who loves ‘something for nothing’ b) The study of the Taoist philosophy c) Cooking for the first time which lead to an interest in health(y) food d) Hiking in nature vs city streets of Miami, opening an entirely new world of prosperity e) Discovering foraging and the wild edibles fundamental of ‘get more stuff vs enough’–a throw-back encompassing all that his life had taught him. “Foraging became a stepping stone for me to begin to answer the questions; ‘What do I need?’; ‘What does the world need?’; ‘What is the meaning of Life?’”

“You are living in the Garden of Eden.”, he stated. He was not asking me. This philosoforager was making a pronouncement. We, human beings, are living here on the planet earth in the Garden of Eden.

Alan Muskat, made me stop and think. Think about a life philosophy I had never considered. Wow, I’d never entertained/translated this religious teaching into my twenty-first century life… In fact, I do believe we ARE living in the Garden of Eden! The question is then posed, ‘Are we living or existing? Are you?’ Are you wanting more? Or are you appreciating all that you already have.’ It is true, the Universe does provide everything for us–step away from materialism, move around in nature for a little while and gaze with open eyes at the abundance and beauty of the world we live in… there is no doubt it is awe inspiring, encapsulating all of our 5 senses in a bountiful tableau so often ignored in our everyday.

Alan’s philosophy extends far beyond the above statement, and he is launching his 80/20 retreat series this fall which will be open to a select group of people wanting to engage in the questions of beauty of life beyond our preconceived borders and dissect complexity=integration & differentiation and how to find the place for both when we are all seeking the same things as competitive individuals. The competitor/survivor instinct lives–thrives–so how do we 1) make the world a better place (whole) & 2) me, a better person (individual)? Why do we care if the ‘whole’ is a better place?, I ask him. “Because the whole is always better than the parts.”, the ‘top Princeton grad gone wild’, replies and ‘home’ is the best place to begin the journey–it usually holds all of the answers.

For more information on booking Alan Muskat for national & global engagements &/or The 80/20 Retreat: Asheville, NC contact: No Taste Like Home  (828) 209-8599

No Taste Like Home offers tours with one of several expert guides from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday and the third Wednesday of each month in and around Asheville from mid-April to mid-October. Group tours are $60 for adults and half price for ages 4-10. The price includes an introductory e-book. Groups range in size but do not exceed 15 people. Be sure to ask the team at NTLH for the list of special restaurants in Asheville who will take your foraged foods from the tour and prepare as your appetizer with a dinner reservation!