07/01/2013 13:32 EDT | Updated 08/31/2013 05:12 EDT

'Urban foraging' trend inspires scavenging foodies

Toronto diners are scavenging in forests, parks, yards and even back alleys for edible treats as part of a new food trend that some chefs are also embracing.

It's called "urban foraging" and it has foodies picking through parts of the city like hunter-gatherers for ingredients to add to their next meal.

"We never thought it was that strange," said Jonathan Forbes, with Forbes Wild Food, a red-hot business that caters to Canadians' appetites for fresh, locally picked whole foods.

The company supplies wild fruits, vegetables and mushrooms to remote regions across the country.

To Forbes, the business was a natural extension of something he'd grown up doing, picking and chowing down on berries outside his childhood home. Back then, he just called it snacking in the backyard.

'Citrusy' spruce tip

David Curtis who recently hosted a workshop at George Brown College designed to tempt foodies to try seriously local foods.

"This is a shoot, off a branch," he said, muching on a spruce tip. "It's really delicious, actually."

Paul Genest, who tried the spruce tip, describes it as "delighteful, citrusy, resony — a slightly different, but wonderful flavour."

Michele Genest, another urban forager, says her favourites include dandelions, of course, and plantains — "not the banana-like creature," she clarifies. "It's a green plant."

Meanwhile, some local gourmet hotspots like Cava Restaurant at Yonge and St. Clair are serving up dishes made up of foods foraged from across Canada.

"There are people who go crazy for wild mushrooms, as I do," said Chris McDonald, the chef at Cava.

"It adds an interesting, highly seasonal connection to the land on your menu."