Excuse Me, But I Am NOT Immoral For Picking Blueberries! — A Defense of Wild Harvesting

Every blogger is happy to wake up to a WordPress notification that someone has quoted or commented on one of their blog posts. Usually. But when I found out that I had been misquoted and unjustifiably called immoral, I was less than pleased.

Big blueberries!
Photo by Marc Desrochers

Not long ago, I published a post about how, during the summer months, my partner and I spend more time blueberry picking than hiking. The article links to another post I wrote offering wild blueberry picking tips.

Barry Smylie, a blogger from Toronto, decided that when he didn’t see any wildlife on his trip to Northern Ontario, it was clearly humanity’s immoral fault:

Perhaps next year there will be the wildlife populations in Ontario that I saw in Montana. Perhaps not. Probably not. I have little evidence and even less knowledge to wonder why it seems that humanity has declared a war upon that other mild and defenseless terra forming species, bomb blasting their building and devastating their villages. I think it is not about bacterial infested water. We don't like the idea of sharing the land and the waterways with the one who provides the moose grazing, and as their dams silt in becoming meadows; deer meadows. I can imagine little mice, animated with trousers and suspenders and red, long sleeve tee shirts gathering seeds for winter and brown black bears eating dark blue blue berries fattening up for their hibernation...

Untitled, Barry Smylie

Following this tirade is a series of quotes from other blogs that make a connection between nature and making money, including those of lodges in Killarney Provincial Park.

This is the quote of mine which Smylie chose to highlight:

Sometimes, when we go blueberry picking for an entire weekend... If it wasn't for the mounds of blueberries we freeze, dehydrate, and yes, even sell, I'd be sad that we don't really do any hiking during the summer months.

After the series of “examples” supposedly lending weight to his point, Smylie says:

I could go on quoting self incriminating people admitting to their immorality [emphasis mine], and on about commercial lodges of questionable purpose (designated as townships but without permanent residents) deep within park boundaries. What about those office bound petty government bureaucrats declaring wars on beaver villages and perhaps promoting poaching on the people's land? What about logging in the parks?

Note the ellipsis in the quote from my post… I wonder why Barry Smylie felt the need to omit part of my post?

That would be because Smylie is quoting two different articles; and yet, he only links to one of them. (The second article is one about Sudbury’s Rainbow Routes walking trails.)

When you quote something without identifying the source, Mr. Smylie, that’s called plagiarism.

Without going too much into how that’s immoral in and of itself, Mr. Smylie, here’s what’s wrong with your argument.

It is development of the land that causes harm, not the industries that bring about its protection, like ecotourism and permaculture. Oftentimes, lodges fight tooth and nail to keep their areas pristine, and wild pickers are the most organic growers of all.

And to think that lodges and blueberry pickers are the reason you didn’t see any wildlife on your latest trip to Northern Ontario is illogical. You need to spend a lot of time in the woods to see wildlife. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t. The animals don’t want to be seen, so remember that.

Finally, perhaps it would be incumbent to read the articles you quote. Had you done that, you would have noticed that my blueberry picking tips focus on caring for blueberry plants and encouraging their continued growth. My partner and I highly discourage any practice that could hinder the regeneration of the plants.

Do you eat blueberries, Mr. Smylie? Actually, do you eat anything at all? Please think about where most of your food comes from before attacking wild pickers.

So thanks for your opinion, Mr. Smylie; but no, in fact, I am not immoral!