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University of Vermont Theses & Dissertations

Johnson, Elissa J.
“Don’T Tell Them I Eat Weeds,” a Study of Gatherers of Wild Edibles in Vermont Through Intersectional Identities
As wild edibles gain in popularity both on restaurant menus and as a form of recreation through their collection, research on contemporary foragers/wildcrafters/gatherers of wild edibles has so increased from varied disciplinary perspectives. Through an exploration of gatherers in Vermont, I examine the relationships between practice and identity. By employing intersectionality through feminist ethnographic methods, this research recognizes the complex intersections of individuals’ identities that challenge a more simplified, additive approach to definitions of race, class, gender and the myriad identities that inform one’s experience of privilege and oppression. As prior scholarship has established, people from diverse ethnicities, genders, religions, class affiliations, rural and urban livelihoods, and ages gather wild edibles. This thesis draws connections between the intersectional identities of gatherers and the diversity of their gathering practices. This project includes a discussion of how intersectionality may be applied and employed as analytical theory and as methodological foundation to better approach connections between identity and practice. Key questions driving the analysis are: what are the intersectional identities of gatherers of wild edibles in Vermont, and to what extent are these intersectional identities informing, or informed by, harvest and post-harvest practices? This research contributes to scholarship on foragers from a qualitative methodological perspective and attempts to support the body of literature on intersectionality as methodology as well as research that focuses on the connections between people, practice, and wild foods.

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