If we’re entering a depression or a slump, it seems like a good time to get reacquainted with the sort of wild staples that forager Euell Gibbons made famous—the foods under our feet. One of them, the hickory nut, is happily in season, as Chowhounds have noted. And the farming writer Gene Logsdon has a lovely little essay on why the nuts are worth a walk in the woods.

Logsdon describes the hickory nut as his “very favorite of all wild foods.” It also seems the least suitable for an industrial food system: The nuts vary every year and on every tree; the nutmeats are wildly unpredictable in size; and they’re easily mashed by mechanical nutcrackers. Logsdon recommends a vice for opening them. Either that or a hammer, a free hour or so, and a television program that’s “so bad that you don’t really want to look at it.” He manages just three pints a season.

Next up: Acorn flour. Anyone?

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