Frequently Asked Questions
Where do we meet?
I have a gift certificate. How do I use it?
When is the best time of year to participate?
I'm having trouble registering!
What is No Taste Like Home?
What makes No Taste Like Home special?
What are your tours like?
What should I not expect on a public tour?
How do I sign up?
How many people attend?
How strenuous are the tours?
Where are you located?
Where do you go on your tours?
Where do we meet?
Why aren't we told where we're going when we register?
Do you just focus on mushrooms?
Do you guarantee that we'll find mushrooms?
Will what I learn in Asheville be applicable wherever I live?
Will you come and show me what's growing on my property?
When is the best time of year to participate?
Will I learn everything I need to know in one outing?
Do you offer tours in the winter? I’ve heard that foraging is dangerous. Will you make sure I won't get hurt?
What if it rains?
What should I wear?
What do you recommend bringing?
Do we get to keep what we find?
Do you take photos?
What are your retreats like?
Do you have an internship/apprenticeship program?
I love what you're doing with children. How can I get involved?
Do we make a meal together?
How does the restaurant forage-to-table meal work?
What are your special events like?
Are meals totally made from whatever we find?
Are we actually going to hunt animals together?
Is there a vegetarian option?
Do you offer wild food-themed catering?
Several of your featured edibles are not native. Isn't this about native foods?
How much do your tours cost?
How do I sign up?
Do you sell gift certificates?
What is the difference between buying several gift certificates and buying a season pass?
I have a gift certificate. How do I use it?
How do I use my season pass?
Do you offer group discounts or package deals?
Do you offer scholarships, sliding scale pricing, or work trade?
Are children allowed?
Are dogs allowed?
Do you take reservations?
Do you have a wait list for sold-out events?
I'm having trouble paying online. Can I call you with a credit card number, mail you a check, or pay when I get there?
Travel and Accommodations
How do I get there?
Is lodging available?
How can I find out more about Asheville?
What are the typical high and low temperatures each month?
What airports are nearby?
Do you offer shuttle service from and to any airports?
We are the only tour company in the U.S. specializing in forage-to-table adventures. There are many farm-to-table programs in the country featuring cultivated food. Many restaurants nowadays incorporate foraged food. But none are BYOB: "Bring Your Own Booty." In other words, you don't gather any of it yourself.
There is one hotel in Seattle that offers an urban summer tour with very limited foraging. An offering in Chicago is just getting started. And there is a resort in northwestern Pennsylvania will teach you how to cook your catch, but they are focused on hunting, not gathering (as with hotels that will cook up your self-caught seafood). There's a restaurant on Vancouver Island and one in British Columbia offering similar programs. Those are the only ones in North America that we're aware of. We'd love to help others get started!
There are a handful of "forage & feast" programs elsewhere, including Catalonia, Spain. A Michelin-starred restaurant in the Pyrenees offers mushroom 'hunt, cook, and eat' tours by arrangement (see also here). That's not surprising, seeing as one of the top TV shows in Catalonia is "Mushroom Hunters." Here's a fun review of another such offering in Bavaria. There's another in Wales. There's a seafood one in Australia. There's ones in England, South Africa, and Thailand (see here). And here's a few others.
As far as we know, we offer the only opportunity in North America to gather and enjoy, year-round, your very own "catch of the day."
Mushrooms are not always out, but we always find at least dozen wild edibles. There will be something for everyone to take home, but the focus is on learning, not harvesting. Still, this is a tour, not a workshop; you won't learn everything in a day.
Tours include a tasting, not a meal, but a local restaurant will prepare your finds for free.
If you want to hike, to be just in woods, to focus only on mushrooms, to focus on harvesting, to learn as much as possible, or to make a meal together, consider a private tour.
Our tours range from one to fifteen participants.
For where we meet, see below.
No Taste Like Home is based in Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville sits in the heart of the Southern Appalachians, a.k.a., The Katuah Bioregion. This region has the greatest biodiversity outside of the tropics on Earth. There are over 300 wild edibles around Asheville; at least half are common. In fact, the potential variety on just one day can be staggering (see on the right and also here). And that's just mushrooms. There are also dozens of common plant edibles here, including 90% of the common edibles you'll find anywhere else in the country. For more about Asheville, see here.
Our Asheville tour destinations include a variety of natural areas usually within a half hour of town. Some are in Pisgah National Forest, where we operate under a special license; some are private (for a sampling, see here).
In Summer and Fall, we spend more time in the woods. In Winter and Spring, we usually spend most of our time out in the sun, where most wild food at that time of year can be found.
For more about Asheville's supreme biodiversity, see here.
Asheville tours meet on site. Pre-registration is required. Directions are posted here by 7 pm the night before the tour. See also previous and next question.
We can't tell you where we're going sooner than the night before because most of the time, we don't know. Like a snorkeling trip, we go where the conditions are best. If it threatens to rain, we may go someplace else.
There is a reason hunter-gatherer societies are nomadic. When you choose to forage, it's Mother Nature that sets the itinerary.
Most people are surprised at how easy our tours usually are. We generally choose fairly open, flat terrain and take three hours to travel no more than a third of a mile. In that time, participants have several opportunities to spread out and see what they can find. At those times, participants can walk as far or stay as close as they want. We do take the entire group off-trail, however, where it's brushy in places, the ground is uneven, and there are rocks and fallen branches to watch out for, so long pants and sturdy shoes are recommended. If you have any concerns, please check with us.
On our tours, particularly at the beginning and the end, there are times when we may spend up to 45 minutes in one spot. If anyone in your party would have trouble standing for that long and would not be comfortable sitting on the ground, we have light folding chairs we can bring along. Just let us know and we would be happy to accommodate you.
If you schedule a private tour, we will choose where we go and what we do to accommodate the needs and preferences of your group. If you want a rugged hike to a remote, secluded swimming hole, we can do that. If you want a short drive and an easy walk to a waterfall, we can do that too; there are over one hundred waterfalls in Western North Carolina to choose from! If our program includes a meal together, whether a picnic or a five-course dinner, the meal will not be purely made from what we manage to find-- unless you want it that way!
What most people don't realize is that wild edibles are actually easy to find. There are probably over twenty-five of them within fifty yards of where you are right now. The fact is, there is more wild food in the city than there is in the country. Any county park, suburban yard, or empty lot will have more wild food than the most pristine woods. The Native Americans knew this, so they periodically cleared areas of forest to increase food diversity (read the book, 1491).
Foraging not "Man vs. Wild." It's often, quite literally, a walk in the park. Just ask Norma Forbes. Come see for yourself that the "Garden of Eden" is just a few steps away.
It depends on what is actually out at the time (see "When is the best time of year to participate?") and what the group asks for. When you register, we ask you to indicate your preferred focus (whether mushrooms, plants, or both) and we plan the tour accordingly. On a public tour, however, the group is mixed, so we usually cover both mushrooms and wild plant edibles.
Second, even in season foraging tours are like whale-watching tours: we can't guarantee that mushrooms will make an appearance. Mushrooms, like the rain they rely on, are unpredictable, especially in the Appalachians. They are literally an underground dinner: they don't announce their location in advance. Remember, these jokers are wild.
For this reason, we usually bring at least one example of the top mushrooms currently in season to show if not to cook up. Overall, remember, foragers can't be choosers. Fortunately, there are over 125 common edibles to "chew" from. Prepare to be surprised!
“Mushrooms!” exclaimed Kamba the Tortoise, joyfully. “Do I see mushrooms? REAL mushrooms?”
Yes, they were real mushrooms, little, white mushrooms that had pushed all night at the dark brown earth above them, and had struggled through its hard crust just in time to see the sunrise, just in time to make a fine breakfast for a hungry Tortoise.
Malawi folk tale in G. Elliot,
The Long Grass Whispers
Since our tours are usually geared toward beginners and the edibles we focus on are the most common wild foods across the country (see the top ten wild foods here), 95% of what you learn will be applicable wherever you are. See also here.
Yes; see here.
In Asheville, the main wild foods season runs from about mid-April to mid-October. For winter tours, see here.
The main mushroom season runs July through September. However, the top ten mushrooms are spread out from April into November; details below.
Generally speaking, in spring there are flowers and greens, in summer and early fall, fruits and mushrooms, and in the autumn, nuts, roots, and animals. But there's always a mix of everything: ramp bulbs (wild leeks) and morel mushrooms are gathered in late April, rose of sharon flowers and lambsquarter greens are abundant in midsummer, and chickweed and nettle greens come back in the Fall. For a month-by-month tour of the richest temperate bioregion in the world, see here.
Everything has its season, and that's part of the charm of eating with the seasons. But that also means that you won't see everything in one visit. Nature is not a green Walmart. There are over 100 common edibles that can be found around Asheville in the course of a season. But only about thirty will be out at a given time.
If you want to focus on mushrooms, the top ten to learn are spread out across the season. They start with morels from late March to early May, then reishi into June, then chicken of the woods, chanterelles in July and August, lobster mushrooms and milk caps in August and September, boletes in September, honey mushrooms in September and October, and maitake and oyster mushrooms in October and November.
This is a rough sketch, one that can vary by a month or so every season. After all, Nature's always full of surprises. You never know exactly when and where a given variety will appear in a given year, if at all. If it doesn't rain the week before, there won't be many mushrooms that week. This is what makes foraging not only fun, but an exercise in nonattachment. Foragers can't be choosers!
We lead tours year-round by request. In the colder months, we usually spend most of our time in sunny areas where most of the wild foods are. Or we can visit a waterfall, gather birch or sassafrass for root beer, and maybe even find chaga along the way. Either way, we always find at least a dozen edibles.
Probably not. First off, not everything is out at the same time (see here). Second, we usually only cover 12-15 wild edibles in a three-hour tour. That's because our time and energy together is limited, there are some basic general things to cover, we need time to just enjoy being outside, and you can't really learn more than a handful of wild edibles in one day anyway.
If you want a "wild foods intensive," you can schedule a custom tour. But even then, don't expect to learn how to safely forage on your own in a single outing. That would be like expecting to learn a new language in a day. The best way to learn a foreign language is by immersion, that is, by simply spending time in that country. It takes time to learn any skill. Only practice makes perfect.
For these reasons, we recommend that people attend at least three tours across the season, and we offer discounted season passes which can be purchased here.For more information, contact us.
No! And if you are bringing children with you, see here.
In registering, you are stating that you understand that foraging has its risks. People routinely have allergic reactions to foods they are not used to, particularly wild foods. People cut themselves preparing food. They twist their ankles or fall and break bones. They have severe reactions to poison ivy or other wild plants. They get stung or bitten by animals. That's why these plants and animals are called "wild."
Wild means untamed. You don't expect to be able to pet a wild animal, and you can't just go into the woods and eat whatever you find. Then again, you don't go around petting strangers either, and if you ate anything you found in a supermarket you could end up drinking bleach.
Driving isn't exactly "safe," yet most of us do it every day. People in hunter-gatherer societies eat wild food daily, and they have been doing so, with very few mishaps, for thousands of years. They can do this, just as we manage to drive relatively safely, because they first learn how. That's what we're here to teach you. Our guides are all highly skilled and experienced in wild food identification and processing. Many are professional wildcrafters and several have written books on the subject. Still, that doesn't mean accidents don't happen.
Despite the risks, we, the organizers of No Taste Like Home, hike in the woods. We choose to eat wild food. That doesn't mean YOU have to. You are choosing to participate in these events at your own discretion and therefore at your own risk. You are also consenting to emergency medical treatment in the event of an injury.
If you are unsure about your physical capabilities or possible allergies, please consult your doctor prior to participation in one of our events. If you are allergic to any type of bee, wasp, hornet, etc. please bring your injectable prescription medicine if required.
Participation in our programs also means agreeing to be photographed; see here.
Tours are generally rain or shine. Check the forecast and dress appropriately. For last minute concerns, see our Contact Page.
For the foraging component, we recommend long pants, socks, and sturdy shoes. Dinner dress is casual. See also next question.
Bring a rain jacket if the forecast calls for rain. For morning outings, snacks and a bag lunch are recommended. A collecting basket, knife, water bottle, and camera are optional. We take a few pictures for you.
Pretty much. If we are planning to take another group to that location in the next couple days or if it's a very frequented area, we may need to leave some edibles for others, but this is usually not an issue except at Alan's morel spot.
In general, keep in mind that our focus is usually on learning rather than gathering, which you can do later on your own. As the saying goes, we're here to teach you to fish, not to fish with you. If you'd like to focus on gathering, we're happy to arrange a private tour for that.
Whether on a public or private tour, after we have laid out everything we've gathered and looked it over, your guide may need to hang onto a few samples of each variety to show to subsequent groups. We then usually cook up a sampling. Finally, we split up what's left. That means you may need to share!
Yes, the guide's assistant takes a few pictures and we post these on our Facebook page the next day. This frees participants to focus on learning and enjoying their experience while still having an easy way to share it with their friends afterward.
If you're not comfortable with us posting photos of you, just let us know.
Our retreats are multi-day events. You'll meet fifteen to thirty wild foods each day and experience the life of a modern hunter-gather firsthand.
Our public retreats include our Promised Land and Three Seasons to Eden programs. Our private retreats include our Rewilding Weekend and our weekend campout. If you're not up for camping, you can either arrange your own lodging or stay at any of our favorite accommodations.
Private retreat prices vary with group size; for more information, contact us.
See our teacher training program.
You support The Afikomen Project whenever you register for a public or private tour or buy one or more gift certificates. The proceeds fund our youth program. Or you can simply make a donation here (choose any date and just skip the tour-related questions).
If you have more time to spare than money, you can help by spending time in nature — foraging for us! You can also become an intern, assisting with tours and maybe even, the following season, becoming one of our youth program instructors.
For more info, contact us.
All our tours include a wild foods tasting. Our Asheville tours include a restaurant meal option. Our private tours offer a lunch and/or dinner option, prepared either on-site or in a private home. For larger groups, we offer special events including our forage-to-table banquets.
Participants on any of our tours can opt to enjoy some "find dining" at Asheville's Zambra Tapas Restaurant, The Market Place, Vue 1913 (at the Omni Grove Park Inn), Rhubarb, Local Provisions, or Carmel's for no extra charge. It's BYOB, Bring Your Own Booty: you provide the quarry and they'll prepare your very own "catch of the day" — for FREE. You pay only for whatever else you order. Here's how it works:
Zambra was our first forage-to-table partner. The Marketplace is Asheville's original farm-to-table restaurant. Our collaboration with Vue 1913 has been featured by ZAGAT. John Fleer of Rhubarb has catered several special events with us. Chef Justin Burdett at Local Provisions was featured together with us on Bizarre Foods. Carmel's, our newest partner, has great outdoor seating in the heart of downtown.
After registering for a tour, pick a day and time for your meal. If your tour is in the afternoon and you want to go that same night, remember to leave plenty of time to travel back to town, shower, change, etc. as well as about 30 minutes flex time since we often run over. For an outing scheduled to end at 5 pm, that means dinner no earlier than 7 pm.
Remember that you need not enjoy your finds that same day. In fact, if you go at a time other than Saturday night, your wild dishes will get more attention. Zambra, The Market Place, Vue 1913 and Carmel's are open for dinner seven nights a week. Local Provisions is closed on Mondays and Rhubarb is closed on Tuesdays. Carmel's is open for lunch everyday and Rhubarb everyday except Monday and Tuesday. The Market Place also serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30-2pm. Restaurant schedules change frequently; call or check website to confirm.
To make a reservation, you can call Zambra at 828-232-1060, The Market Place at 828-252-4162, Vue 1913 at 800-438-5800, Rhubarb at 828-785-1503, Local Provisions at (828) 424-7815, or Carmel's at (828) 252-8730. You MUST tell them to let the owner know that you will be bringing wild foods from No Taste Like Home. The person answering the phone may not know what you're talking about, but assure them that the executive chef will (that's Adam, William, James, John, Justin, and Carole respectively).
Alternatively, you can make your reservations through Open Table for The Market Place, Zambra, Vue 1913, Rhubarb or Local Provisions. Under Special Requests, be sure to enter "No Taste Like Home - Wild Foods Dinner." If you have any food allergies, restrictions, or preferences, let them know that too, even if you indicated that when you registered. (We don't share that information with the restaurants because we don't know who is actually going to dinner, and if so, where.)
At the outing, your guide will ask who will be find dining that week. On a public tour, if there are one or more other parties who will be going to the same restaurant and you would like to sit together, just call the restaurant and combine your reservations. When you leave, just have your guide set you up with labeled bags of three wild ingredients (here's a list of what they might be).
If you'll be dining at Vue 1913, please drop off your catch at the concierge desk anytime but no later than 45 minutes before your reservation (the sooner the better). The Market Place also prefers if you drop your ingredients off beforehand, ideally before they open at 5:30. If you're going to any of our other partner restaurants, you can just bring it in with you. Either way, try to keep it cool before then. When you get to the restaurant, send your booty back to the kitchen. Then order whatever else you'd like; your wild dishes will be on the house.
Questions? Contact us. Sound good?
With private events, that's up to you. Our public programs are normally geared toward beginners. If a program includes a meal on-site, we will have already harvested enough wild food for it. You won't have to put food on the table!
Our public programs do not normally include hunting or fishing, but private programs can include either one. We also offer vegetarian meals on request.
Although we are critical of vegetarianism, our partner restaurants and special events all accommodate vegetarians by request.
Yes, see here.
Several of your featured edibles are not native. Isn't this about native foods?
No Taste Like Home is about wild, i.e., natural food: food that thrives in an area on its own (see here). We don't subscribe to distinctions like "native" or "indigenous" vs. "exotic" or "invasive."
The concept of being "native" — or "invasive," for that matter — is highly suspect. One can argue that white people are not native to North America and that they are highly invasive: they take over and destroy natural habitat. Does that mean they don't belong here and should be exterminated? Nazi Germany had a native plants program, and many native plant societies are funded by petrochemical companies.
Besides, it's not as simple as pulling out the invasives and planting natives. The same thing will probably just happen again. For more info, see Beyond the War on Invasive Species or Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience).At No Taste Like Home, we harvest anything in abundance, whether "native" or "exotic," including so-called "invasives." If you can't beat it, eat it!
Yes, see here.
You can register for a public tour here or a private tour here. For more info on both, see here. The event you attend must take place within a year of the certificate date of purchase and our public tours only run from April to October.
When you register, enter the discount code "GIFT." When you hit "Apply," ticket prices should be crossed out and replaced with zeros. If the value of your gift certificate is less than your total cost, enter the balance under "donation/other." If it's more, consider bringing a friend.
On the next screen, where it says, "is there anything else we need to know?," tell us who bought the gift certificate.
If you have any questions, contact us.
You can register for a public tour here, and you can select your additional dates now or throughout the season. If you need to change or cancel a date and want to keep your credit, please let us know no less than 24 hours before the tour. The events you attend must take place within a year of the pass date of purchase and our public tours only run from April to October.When you register, enter the discount code "WEEDEATER." When you hit "Apply," ticket prices should be crossed out and replaced with zeros. Keep in mind season passes can only be used by one individual through the season. On the next screen, where it says, "is there anything else we need to know?," tell us who bought the pass if it was a gift. If you have any questions, contact us.
Yes. We have packages with a variety of accommodations. We also offer 20% off when you buy five or more tickets or gift certificates and season passes for individuals looking to join us for 4 or more tours through the season.
For more info, contact us.
Yes. Who says there’s no free lunch? At No Taste Like Home, we believe that food and housing are our birthright and should be guaranteed to all. We strive for a gift economy, i.e., where people don't charge each other for things. After all, Nature doesn't charge us!
Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, "you owe me." Look what happens with a love like that: it lights up the world.
For this reason, no one is turned away for lack of funds. We invite you to "give what you can; take what you need." Keep in mind that our tours fund our youth program and that learning to forage quickly pays for itself. We've heard from many people whom, like this woman, just a week or two after taking an introductory class, had already picked over $300 worth of wild mushrooms.
If you have the time to work trade, you can simply gather wild foods for us in exchange for classes. For more more information, contact us. May we all share in nature's abundance.
We feel it's important and natural to start children foraging early. As we all know, toddlers are constantly putting everything in their mouths anyway; we might as well teach them how to forage safely. We therefore allow children of all ages to attend — with the following three requirements:
1. On public tours, caregivers must take children out of earshot if they are crying or otherwise disruptive to the group. Please do not wait for us to ask you to do so.
2. You must make it very clear to your child that they must not taste anything unless specifically instructed to do so.
3. You are responsible for keeping a careful eye on your child throughout the tour.
There are a handful of plants and mushrooms in our area that, if swallowed, are potentially deadly, even in small amounts. We once had a toddler who took a bite of an unidentified mushroom. Although she claimed to have spit it out, we couldn't afford to believe her. We were leaving for the hospital when we finally determined that the mushroom was harmless.
It's not that wild mushrooms are so dangerous: 99% of them are harmless. It's the potentially traumatizing experience everyone has to go through just in case. Please watch — and educate — your children. For more to be aware of when foraging with us, see here.
Dogs are not permitted on public tours. At private events, it's up to the organizer. If we are providing the venue, make sure the organizer checks with us. Some of our events are in private locations with resident dogs and it will depend in part on how well your dog gets along with other dogs.
No, we do not hold unpaid spaces.
If you entered a discount code and did not receive a discount, click "Back" and make sure you hit "APPLY."
If payment won't work, we do take credit cards over the phone; just call 828-209-8599. You can also mail in a check or money order. However, you must pay beforehand. We do not take payment on site, we do not hold spaces until payment is received, and if you do not preregister, you will not receive important information, including where to meet.
If the system is still not working for you, please call or email us and tell us exactly where the problem is so we can fix it. We will register you over the phone.
To mail in your payment, contact us.
Include your contact information and we will let you know how to complete registration.
If you cancel no later than 30 days before the event, your ticket will be refunded minus a 25% cancellation fee.
If you cancel between 3 and 29 days before the event, you will receive a 50% refund.
If you cancel within 3 days of the event, your ticket is non-refundable unless we can replace you. If we can replace you, you will receive a 50% refund.
If you give your space to someone else, they must register themselves in order to attend. Have them contact us and we will provide a coupon code for them to use.
When you register or contact us, we add you to our mailing list. You may unsubscribe anytime. We do not share your information without your consent.
Directions are e-mailed upon registration.
Yes. See our Accommodations and Packages page.
Asheville Regional (AVL) is twenty minutes south,
Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) is one hour and ten minutes south,
Tri-Cities (TRI) is one hour and twenty minutes north,
Charlotte (CLT) is two hours southeast, and
Knoxville (TYS) two hours and twenty minutes west.
We don't but we know people who can assist you.
You can probably make a significant portion of your income from gathering and selling wild foods. For examples, see here. Check the laws in your state, though. You may have to complete a training course or at least team up with someone who is already licensed.
Although plant foods generally don't bring in as much money as mushrooms, they extend your season and diversify your income. Either way, the place to start is to find an expert in your area to learn from. Check out this list. If there's nobody on there near you, look for restaurants in your area that use wild foods. You can simply look up the most expensive ones on Open Table. Call and ask the chef to give your number to whoever is foraging for them and say you want to apprentice with them. If you still can't find anyone, we could coach you by phone.
Ultimately, if you have a talent for teaching, you could make more reliable money teaching foraging than picking to sell. This might take longer to set up. We offer an in-depth teacher training program and will be establishing a network of trained instructors after that. Until then, we can coach you further on how to get started by phone.
Foraging, like any skill, cannot be learned solely from a book. That said, we recommend books by Sam Thayer, John Kallas, and Diane Falconi. As an introduction to mushroom hunting, we offer our own booklet.
No Taste Like Home sets the standard for sustainable wildcrafting. Our director serves on the North Carolina Advisory Committee on Wild Mushroom Harvesting. We operate in Pisgah National Forest under a special permit as well as in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We frequently lead programs on lands managed by conservation organizations including Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, and The Nature Conservancy.
For the past four years, we have worked with The North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, MountainTrue, and other state and local environmental organizations on a nontimber forest product (NTFP) research project under a grant from Foundation for the Carolinas.
Note that foraging hurts the environment less than the food you buy in the store. For one, mushrooms are only the fruit of a fungus. Picking them, then, is like picking berries. That's why it's legal to gather both in national forest as well as most national parks. Also, we only harvest plants that are common in our area. Most are generally considered "weeds."
When it comes to conserving the environment, it's use it or lose it. It's time to eat the neighbors!