New York Today: Snacking in, and on, City Parks

Friday: Urban foraging and your favorite neighborhood mom-and-pop shop.

Comments: 12

  1. Excellent article. I work with the public, with schools, museums, nature centers, teaching farms, and the like, and using foraging as a "gateway drug" to get kids interested in nature is a major goal. Also, my 14-year-old daughter, Violet, has been co-leading half my tours since she was 9.

    For more info, and my schedule, please visit

  2. I love that you named your daughter for a wild edible flower!

  3. What an instructive life lesson, to be arrested and then hired by the same city! And it's so exciting to see the subject of the article here - no offense meant and hoping no offense is taken. (What I admire tends to make me want to sing.)

    “Steve Brill would see that same patch of green and think, Mmm delicious.”

    Tune of Campbell’s soup ad [with the Andy Warhol musical “This Ain’t No Disco” off-Broadway on my playlist the other day]

    Mm, mm, good.
    Mm, mm, good.
    Try Fort Tryon Park
    It’s Mm, mm, good!

    (repeat at your favorite eating spots, then big finish)

    Dig through soil
    Add some oil
    New York City parks;
    [Tour group} They’re Mm, mm, good!

  4. Just for second, imagine the momentary consternation of parents counseling their young teens about jobs and toeing the line on rules when they read this and wonder, how do I ever teach them right from wrong:

    'Mr. Brill was arrested in 1986 “for eating a dandelion” on a tour, he said, but the charges were dropped and he was later hired by the Parks Department as a naturalist for a few years'

    Kind of like paying millions to the hacker who was arrested to safeguard Internet security ;)

  5. @common sense advocate - But the key to stress when the kids ask is that the charges were dropped, before the second part happened! :)

    I recall my Mom on the subway home from "A Chorus Line" reassuring me that when I go to look for a job, it would be totally illegal for a potential boss to be that intrusive into my life as a condition of being considered for a job. And if the potential boss put everyone through that ordeal and gave the job to his ex-girlfriend, it would not be allowed. I asked then, if the show's whole premise is against the law, what made them keep writing the show. Mom said well, even though it makes no legal sense, they're very entertaining and it didn't bother the critics so it's a big hit, so that can forgive anything. (Success can forgive anything, in other cynical words!)

  6. Now, this is only me, but if someone asked me, Hey, wanna go foraging?" I'd answer in the manner of the 2000 Year Old Man when he told Joan of Arc, "You save France; I'm gonna wash up."

  7. Regarding the "And Finally" - There was a pop-and-sons business, a nice clean place near 7th on West 35th Street. A combo shoe shine, and even with the smell of the shoe polish, they sold food, too. Years later in 1992, I went back to work in the same area, different job a block from my old college job, and it wasn’t there. Perhaps the owner retired, maybe rents got too high, or maybe it was just too one-gender-only in appeal to stay afloat. And by the 1990s, it seemed we also tended to take care of our own shoes at home, similar the way even accountants and lawyers had all started to do our own typing.

    Tune of “Those Were the Days, My Friend”

    Once upon a time there was a business
    Where the guys took good care of our shoes
    Right beside the spraying and the polish
    A coffee nook where we could nosh and schmooze

    That was the place back then
    Don’t you remember when
    We’d get a shine, have lunch there in the chair
    But now that haimish store
    Has long since closed its door.
    And now that block’s like it was never there.

    La la la la la la
    La la la la la la
    This is the block - I'm sure it was right there.


    A nosh is a timely snack
    That lets you miss a meal,
    Appeasing the appetite
    And providing a low-cal deal.

    A square of chocolate
    Or any cheese will do
    Along with a pretzel stick
    Or maybe even two.

    But should you overdo it
    (Like showering in galoshes),
    You risk both adding pounds
    And feeling kinda noshes.

  9. There was an article in NYT about a chef goes foraging in queens park for his Sunday family dinner ! Smart !( if you know what are you doing )

  10. Jonathan: I don't get it. If the Dept of Parks prohibits "foraging" (or is it stealing?), why are you promoting the idea and Mr Brill who isn't so much a naturalist as a rule-breaker?

  11. While. It clear from the article, Steve Brill is actually a widely published author. The plants and mushrooms he focuses his efforts on are not cultivated trees purchased for landscaping. In fact, many are nonnative, like dandelion and burdock. Getting people out into the less-traveled sections of parks and increasing their connection with nature is also a major part of the Parks Dept's goals.

    So he provides the service of getting people out into the woods and invasive species removal. Sounds like a bargain for the Parks Dept.

  12. Once again the Liberty are omitted, and they will be hosting the Atlanta Dream Sunday at 2:30 PM and it will be televised on MSG Network.