• Jonathan Till

New directions with old ideals

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

It's been a while since our last blog post, but you know the saying "no news is good news." In this case, well..that's exactly the case! After some discussions, a lot of thought, and a yearning for a new direction, I decided that it was time to step away from the restaurant industry and focus solely on Heritage Foraging and the direction I wanted it to go.

A few years ago I started to get into the medicinal side of mushrooms. The research on the benefits of mushrooms like Turkey Tail, Reishi and Chaga had become less of a fringe movement and now had cemented itself in mainstream medical studies. The use of tinctures and supplements are widespread and common today. Mushrooms are popping up in coffees, teas, ENERGY BARS! Hell I had a hipster soda the other day while talking to a friend and he said "you over exaggerate the use of mushrooms!". I spun the can around to look at the ingredients and sure enough mushrooms was an ingredient (Chaga).

Along with medicinal mushrooms I started to become interested in medicinal plants too. Unfortunately my knowledge is limited on the matter and as a executive chef so was my time. So I did what any normal person does who is leading a very successful career....I quit my job! After doing a ton of researching I settled on a wholistic herbalism school that I felt would give me the best education for what I felt like I wanted to accomplish.

Now you maybe asking "why" and "what" and again, "WHY?!" Simple answer, 2020 is a train wreck thrown into a dumpster fire. The restaurant industry is crippled in a way chefs will tell their grandchildren with glossy eyes, "I was there when it happened...". So with the struggles of 2020 and my future unsure I did what anyone would do, switched deodorant. Whys this matter? My new deodorant caused me to have a SEVERE and painful reaction to it. I'm not sure what the ingredient was that I reacted to, but it was the catalyst, the match to the gasoline. . So standing in front of a hot grill flipping well done burgers, holding my arms up like a duck getting ready to take flight I though "what the hell am I doing with my life? somethings gotta change". Maybe a few of you can relate but this past year I put as much garbage into my body as I could. I was feeling unhealthy in all the ways.

So circling back to the deodorant, I had looked at the ingredients and I had no clue what anything in it was. I started thinking about how I've been preaching eat local, eat seasonal, slow food/ farm to table know what you're putting in your body and it dawned on me, I had no real clue what I was putting ON my body or frankly even how to take care of my body. So I decided that I was going to add a new element to Heritage Foraging, homeopathic and naturopathic cosmetics and tinctures using the medicinal plants and mushrooms I locally forage and the herbs and flowers I grow on my property.

Now seeing as I'm a chef, I've been creating recipes for many years now. So pivoting to making balms, shampoo bars, soaps, etc.. was only a matter of research and reading then putting into practice. But that wasn't enough, I wanted to know why I was doing the things I was doing and I wanted the medical proof to back it up.

Enter Eagle scout, Dr. Conor Byrt. Dr. Conor is a good friend of mine going back over a decade and is currently practicing emergency medicine in Texas. We grew up spending a lot of together in the woods foraging and helping his parents out with their small farm in upstate NY (we actually used to line cook together at one point). When I told him of my idea of expanding on Heritage Foraging's concept to not only include local and suitable things we put INTO our body but ON our bodies as well, he agreed to help me understand from a medical point of view with what nature provides.

So with that, I would like to welcome Dr. Conor to Heritage Foraging and we're very excited to launch our new products. We will be doing a soft launch around December 1st and then 2021 is a new year full of exciting possibilities!

(Dr. Conor and myself on one of our many fishing and foraging trips)

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