CLITHERALL, Minn. - The raspberry bushes were growing alongside the gravel road in Bemidji not far from our home. I would never have noticed had not my farm-boy husband made his way toward them and began eating the berries. He offered me a few. I made a face.

Eating berries from the side of the road? What if the township had sprayed chemicals? What about exhaust from passing vehicles? What if birds or bugs had soiled the berries?

This didn't faze my husband. He didn't see any sign of chemical spray. The birds had been eating them and that was good enough for him. Tentatively I ate one. It was tart but not mouth-puckering. There was sweetness, too. Before I knew it, I'd eaten a handful, and we left the rest for the birds.

One of the biggest transitions for people moving from city to country can be trusting the land around you as a source of food. Like me, many were raised solely on grocery store food, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of our neighbors in Plymouth grew gardens, but my family never did. I trusted grocery store food in its plastic packaging, assuming that food companies employed experts and sanitary processes to ensure that it was safe.

I had read Upton Sinclair's novel "The Jungle," which led to the passage of U.S. food safety laws, which I assumed would keep me safe. To me, food seemed best to eat after it had run through the system, been inspected and signed off on. The wild world seemed full of pathogens. That was how I saw things, never mind that throughout human history, people thrived eating from the wild. I along with many of my peers was a product of the modern food system that separates us from growing or gathering our own food.

People who grew up in rural Minnesota will likely laugh at my naivete. They've gardened or foraged for generations.

Foraging has caught on again in recent years, with groups devoted to finding mushrooms, wild asparagus, plums and berries. It's become so popular that the DNR is considering limiting how much foragers can remove from state parks; the public will be able to comment on that sometime this year. Well-known forager Sam Thayer says on his website that his 2006 book, "The Forager's Harvest," has sold more than 250,000 copies.

You can eat dandelions. You can eat hosta shoots. You can eat purslane, a wild succulent that frequently grows in gardens, although people with kidney disease should steer clear. Recently a new yellow flower began popping up in our hayfield. An online wildflower website identified it as salsify, a plant that is edible from flower to root.

Raising chickens was a big step forward for me. Wild plants is one thing, but raising your own meat is entirely different. You can get salmonella from chicken, e. coli from ground beef, trichinosis from pork. Shoot, you can get mercury poisoning from certain kinds of fish if you eat too much.

We ordered 25 chicks and raised them in a small shed near our house, adding a run when they got bigger. When they were big enough to eat, we processed them ourselves over two days. My job was to pluck the feathers. It was so arduous that my in-laws came over to help on Day 2.

I had so many concerns, eating that first farm-raised chicken. It seemed too easy. It hadn't been inspected. It bore no USDA mark of approval nor did it sit on a neat plastic foam tray. It was just us, thinking we knew what we were doing. My husband had no qualms at all, and tentatively I followed his lead. It was delicious. And we didn't get sick.

Since then, I've even baked bread with our own organic wheat.

There's nothing wrong with buying food from grocery stores. We still buy much of our food from the local stores, especially in the winter after we've run out of our own produce.

Living in rural Minnesota has, for me, been a journey of self-trust. I can do more than I ever thought I could. I don't need experts standing between me and my food. In fact, our food is healthier that way. We know exactly what that chicken ate (organic feed plus unwary insects). We didn't give it antibiotics. We know that our vegetables are grown without chemicals or commercial fertilizers. And we know there's nothing like a wild raspberry, picked fresh from the bush.