Foraged ingredients have become all the rage in high end restaurants, part of the move toward hyperlocal, farm-to-table ingredients. Of course, we humans have been foraging pretty much forever. And though it’s less common in America today, Jay Marion’s family never really stopped. Now he’s carrying on that family legacy in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where he searches the woods and fields for all kinds of wild ingredients, to sell, and to eat. Dan joins Jay for a foraging walk, and hears the story of how his business got to where it is today. Jay might have gotten in early on a growing trend — but he never expected what happened next.
This episode originally aired on November 11, 2019, and was produced by Dan Pashman, Ngofeen Mputubwele, Harry Huggins, Tracey Samuelson, Hali Bey Ramdene, and Jared O'Connell. The Sporkful production team now includes Dan Pashman, Emma Morgenstern, Andres O'Hara, Nora Ritchie, and Jared O'Connell.
Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:
- "Marimba Feels Good" by Stephen Sullivan
- "Gravel And Dirt" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt
- "Incidentally" by Black Label Productions
- "Narwhal" by Casey Hjelmberg
Photo courtesy of Dan Pashman.
Jay Marion: Well, come on in.
Dan Pashman: Yeah.
Jay Marion: I've got something for you to try real quick.
Dan Pashman: Oh?
Jay Marion: Let's see. Potatoes with lambs quarters and ramps and acorn flour pancakes.
Dan Pashman: Oh my God. Did you make this?
Jay Marion: Yes.
Dan Pashman: And this is all the stuff you foraged?
Jay Marion: Some of it. Yeah, some of it.
Dan Pashman: This is Jay Marion. He lives in Verona, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. Jay’s a forager. He searches the woods and fields for all kinds of wild ingredients to sell and to eat. I visited him at his home.
Dan Pashman: I feel like there's a lot more going on here with the acorn flour than a typical plain old white pancake.
Jay Marion: Yeah, yeah.
Dan Pashman: Oh, it's really good.
Jay Marion: So this is walnuts that came from local walnut trees.
Dan Pashman: Oh, you got little formerly honey bear plastic jars that's filled with — whats that liquid in there?
Jay Marion: Yeah, yeah. It is honeysuckle syrup.
Dan Pashman: Wow.
Jay Marion: Honeysuckle syrup. Now you can taste this. Now the flavor is very mild, but you can taste the honeysuckle flower in it. There you go.
Dan Pashman: Should I just drink it straight?
Jay Marion: Yeah, give that a whirl. See what you think.
Dan Pashman: All right, honeysuckle syrup. Oh my gosh. Mmm.
Jay Marion: Yeah. It’s nice, huh?
Dan Pashman: I like that it’s not so thick and syrupy. It’s sweet but sort of light.
Jay Marion: Right. You can cook it down and make it thicker.
Dan Pashman: Right.
Jay Marion: But I like it a little thin stuff for lots of different things to put on ice cream, you can make a drink out of it, put it in mixed drinks.
Dan Pashman: Right
Jay Marion: [LAUGHS]
Dan Pashman: So this, your whole house here, Jay, you’ve got all kinds of jars and containers with all different liquids and all kinds of herbs in every which nook and cranny.
Jay Marion: Pretty much.
Dan Pashman: It looks to me like a mad scientist’s laboratory.
Jay Marion: [LAUGHS] Almost.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS] Yeah.
Jay Marion: There’s wine brewing somewhere all the time.
Dan Pashman: Right. [LAUGHS]
Dan Pashman: This is The Sporkful, it’s not for foodies it’s for eaters. I’m Dan Pashman. Each week on our show, we obsess about food to learn more about people. This week I’m talking with Jay Marion. As I said he lives in Verona, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley, and he owns his own foraging business, Digger Jay’s Wild Edibles. No, not that kind of edibles. Literally, food growing wild in nature, that he sells to chefs and other folks.
Dan Pashman: Today, we’re gonna hear the story of how Jay built that business and the struggles he’s faced along the way. In recent years, foraged ingredients have become all the rage in high end restaurants, the whole hyperlocal, farm to table thing. Of course, we humans have been foraging pretty much forever. It’s less common in America today, but Jay’s family never really stopped.
Dan Pashman: What he finds depends on the season but he gets things like morel mushrooms, dandelion greens, truffles, berries, and ramps, which are wild onions that chefs really like, but they have a very short season. When Jay has got the time, he’ll go deep into the woods and spend 8 or 10 hours gathering wild edibles. Today, we just had a couple hours, so we hopped into Jay’s van so he could take me to some of his favorite local spots.
Jay Marion: So there is goodies everywhere.
[CAR DOOR CLOSES AND ENGINE STARTS]
Dan Pashman: So where are we headed, Jay?
Jay Marion: Well, we’re going to go down here to an old, old, old farm, walk down here and we'll get a few things. We're probably gonna look and see if …
Dan Pashman: Jay’s 63. He’s spent most of his life in this area. Driving around with him, it feels like he knows every bush and every tree. And everywhere he looks, he sees food...
Jay Marion: Like those trees right there are autumn olives, which is really invasive. That's not native to this country. But they’re still here, and they still produce a good food. Then there’s cattails and more cattails, and cattails are nice. They’re edible.
Dan Pashman: Cattails are like reeds. They grow in wetlands. And Autumn olives, I would learn, aren’t olives at all. They’re berries.
Jay Marion: Lots of people, believe it or not, don’t use any of this fruit. It’s just there and it produces fruit and it falls on the ground and that’s it.
Dan Pashman: I just looked across the street at this stop light, I see a Dollar General over there. I was reading an article recently that more Americans get their groceries from dollar store than from Whole Foods. You get a lot of your groceries from mother nature.
Jay Marion: Yes, and it's all seasonal. So nowadays we can get whatever we want, whenever we want, so we over indulge most of the time.
Dan Pashman: Right.
Jay Marion: And we can see the results of that of unhealthy America.
Dan Pashman: And what do you make of that so many Americans are getting their groceries at dollar stores?
Jay Marion: Well, that I get because it's about money. It's about — it's cheaper there. I mean, in today's world it's — everything costs so much it's tough for anybody to make a living or much less survive. People make choices all the time about well, do I buy groceries or do I buy heat or do I buy my medicines. And that's not a good choice. Nobody should have to make that choice.
Jay Marion: See those orange fruit on them trees right there?
Dan Pashman: Oh yeah.
Jay Marion: Those are persimmons.
Dan Pashman: Really?
Jay Marion: Yeah. Now those won’t be ripe until after it gets cold. It’s gotta frost on them.
Dan Pashman: I love persimmons.
Jay Marion: Cuz they’re real astringent. But these are native and they are super, super sweet. They’re one of my favorite fruits.
Dan Pashman: Yeah, persimmons are great.
Dan Pashman: I feel like when we’re driving around here I just see trees and I imagine that you have sort of terminator vision.
Jay Marion: [LAUGHS]
Dan Pashman: Like, you know? [LAUGHS]
Jay Marion: [LAUGHS] Right. I get what you're saying.
Dan Pashman: Right? Yeah. Like you zero in on a branch. Like doo-doo-doo... Target acquired.
Jay Marion: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: Right? [LAUGHS]
Jay Marion: Yeah, I have got one of my friends who rides with me. He’s like “It’s gonna take me awhile to get that filter like you’ve got.”
Dan Pashman: Yeah, yeah.
Jay Marion: But I guess I've just been doing it all my life, so I see everything.
Dan Pashman: We turned into the driveway for an office park. This was not what I imagined when I pictured foraging. But the road took us past a big office building, past a factory, around a bend to a dead end. And there it all was. To one side, was a big open field, with tufts of trees and bushes here and there. To the other side, woods that extended as far as you could see.
Dan Pashman: So Jay, while we’re walking and foraging, can you also tell me your life story?
Jay Marion: Yeah. [LAUGHS] Let’s see. My grandfather was born in 1895 ...
Dan Pashman: Jay’s grandfather grew up in West Virginia. His grandparents came to Virginia during a logging boom in the early 1900s.
Jay Marion: And he went off to war, fought in World War I, and when he came back, he worked for the forest service over in West Virginia the rest of his life. And so when I knew him, he never worked. He’d retired by then. He was old enough to retire, so they took me everywhere and showed me all these cool things out here.
Dan Pashman: When did you first start foraging?
Jay Marion: My grandparents started teaching me that before I was 5-years-old. So I’ve been learning — I started learning from them and I’ve learnt all my life. Mainly when I was younger it was all about hey, you can eat this. You know? And it was cool because you could find stuff to eat and supplement your food with that, which we did. My grandmother was a great cook, so she’d make jams, jellies, homemade bread.
Dan Pashman: Jay’s grandmother canned berries and used them all winter long. Their family lived 40 miles away from the closest grocery store, so they couldn’t get there that often. Foraging was a necessity.
Jay Marion: After a period of time, then you know the grocery stores, markets and things started evolving so it became less and less and less necessary. It's easier to go to the grocery store. A lot easier.
Dan Pashman: So, I mean, you could go to the grocery store too, Jay. What do you like about doing this?
Jay Marion: I like getting out, I like seeing things, and learning about new things, and when I do, I can share it with people. The more people I can get the word out to, the more stuff I can get out to where they can taste it, they can realize that hey, there’s stuff out here and it’s good. You know, it’s not just about the rat race and going to the grocery store. There’s more out here. Mother Nature offers us a lot. You know, God has put his stuff out here. Paradise is translated to “garden, right? And the garden is here. It’s everywhere. We just have to slow down enough to see it and enjoy it.
Jay Marion: There you go. Now, here’s your autumn olives. See these?
Dan Pashman: These little red berries.
Jay Marion: There's not a lot on these, but some of these trees will be absolutely loaded. So ... and they have little stickers on them so you gotta watch, but you just slide your hand down and just work your ... like that. [BERRIES RATTLING IN A PAIL] And you'll get ... the little berries will fall in.
Dan Pashman: As soon as I saw these red berries I was like, "Oh, autumn olives! We had these where I grew up in New Jersey! These are the berries my mother told me never to eat."
Jay Marion: Taste that try one. They’re tart ...
Dan Pashman: Mmm!
Jay Marion: But they’re good. They’re real good.
Dan Pashman: Oh, they’ve got a really interesting kind of mouthfeel.
Jay Marion: Yeah. Now, see some of these?
Dan Pashman: It’s tart, but also sort of sticks in your mouth in a way that’s kind of very ...
Jay Marion: Tart and sweet ...
Dan Pashman: Yes.
Jay Marion: Kind of at the same time.
Dan Pashman: There’s a lot going on in one of those. What do you cook with an autumn olive?
Jay Marion: Well ...
Dan Pashman: Anything you do with berries?
Jay Marion: Pretty much. They make an excellent little tart. So take one of those little ones, about, I don't know what, three or four inches. Small tart with a graham cracker crust. Chop up and cook with some apples. And it doesn’t take much, maybe a quarter inch on the bottom of a pan with a pie shell, and then you cook these and run them through a sieve, cuz you can see they have seeds in them, right? And get that out, so all you have is the pulp. And then you put that in your pie pan right over top of your apples, and then cut three little apple pieces, kind of make it look like a leaf, and then you just bake it. And man, are they good. It’s almost like strawberry rhubarb.
Dan Pashman: Oh, yes. Yes. Yeah, maybe there’s a little bit of a rhubarb flavor with these.
Jay Marion: Yeah. Yeah, it does.
Dan Pashman: Yeah, I can see that.
Jay Marion: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
Dan Pashman: So Jay grew up foraging with his grandparents, but then he moved away from it. He went to college. He studied global business management, got a series of jobs overseeing operations at factories and warehouses …
Jay Marion: Imports and exports and law enforcement in military type gear.
Dan Pashman: He got married, had a family, got divorced ...
Jay Marion: My first marriage broke up and that was rough.
Dan Pashman: What’d you learn from that experience?
Jay Marion: Everything has something good in it. Whether we see it or not, it does. But it's hard to go through. We just have to go through it and drive on. But it's — I thought as I got older, life would get simpler and easier, but it doesn’t. It gets more complicated.
Dan Pashman: In 1992, Jay got remarried, to his current wife, Pam. A few years later, he was working for a military contractor. One random night, he was watching TV …
Dan Pashman: Right, he travels all over the world, eat all kinds of things.
Jay Marion: Yeah. And I’m looking at that, I'm like, “Wait, I know some of that stuff, we can do this!” And I was always wondering if there’s a market for it and all the sudden I seeing him and I’m like, "Well, yeah there is." So that’s when I really started pushing it kind of passionately to make extra money with, you know, it to supplement my income. So ...
Dan Pashman: That was the first time you saw that it could be a business.
Jay Marion: Yeah. Yeah. Cause I knew I could make some money, but you can make a good bit of money if you really do it right and have the time and network, so you can make that distribution.
Dan Pashman: So you see this Bizarre Foods episode and kind of a lightbulb goes off.
Jay Marion: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: And you think there’s a business here.
Jay Marion: Right.
Dan Pashman: About when was that?
Jay Marion: That had to be in the late nineties.
Dan Pashman: So what happens next?
Jay Marion: I actually start picking up the phone calling any restaurant and asking, “Hey would you guys like whatever it might be?” And a lot of chefs, believe it or not, don’t know how to use this stuff. They go to culinary school, but they have no idea how to use some of our natural goodies, you know? It’s a lost art. But some of them said yes. Cuz there’s some creative chefs out there that like that stuff.
Dan Pashman: In 2007, Jay officially set up his business — Digger Jay’s Wild Edibles. He started selling to James Beard nominated chefs all over the region, in Stanton, Lexington, and Charlottesville. In an article about Jay, one chef said, “When he shows up at the backdoor with a bagful of fresh morel mushrooms, as a chef, it’s like you kind of start hearing bells. Jay can consistently find world-class ingredients just by going for a walk in the woods.”
Dan Pashman: What were some of the dishes that some of the high-end chefs were making with your ingredients?
Jay Marion: Oh, they would do — I know there was one place over in Charlottesville that used ramps and morels and stuff like that — and the chanterelles, in their pasta. Cause it’s like an Italian restaurant. So they would make dishes with that. And some would just put them on sandwiches. Some of them would make the traditional, you know, like potatoes and ramps and stuff like that. Some people would make apple pies and some cakes and stuff like that — some desserts with some of the stuff.
Dan Pashman: But so late ‘90s, early 2000s, this is a time when organic food is starting to take off. You were early to this trend. What was the business in those days?
Jay Marion: It was good. The demand was stronger than I could go do by myself. So I would say, “Hey guys, you live here. If you get me this and this and this, I’ll buy it from you." And a lot of those people don't’ work very much. You know, they're mountain folk and they just work here and there, spotty jobs, or, you know, something like that, so it's a supplement to their income. You know, young families and stuff ... and yeah, they make pretty good income from that.
Dan Pashman: As the business grew, Jay’s wife, Pam, helped out a lot too.
Jay Marion: She would clean and help prep and prepare and stuff like that, too. What's that There’s some wild grapes. I’ve got plenty of grapes, so I’m not going to harvest any of those. I don't need any of those right now. In the springtime and if you had the people that could really get this stuff out — like ramps, I mean, they love ramps. And you could sell hundreds of pounds of them easy in a day.
Dan Pashman: Jay and Pam’s business kept growing, pretty soon they were shipping all over the country. Jay says they were making $20-$25,000 a year foraging — about a quarter of their income. They both still had day jobs, but they were ready to take the foraging business to the next level.
Jay Marion: I was hoping to probably get like a storefront and a finished product. We could do raw goods to those who wanted it and offer jars of jellies and syrups to those would want that.
Dan Pashman: So you’d have the fresh foraged wild edibles, you’d have prepared foods.
Jay Marion: Yup.
Dan Pashman: Maybe a little restaurant set up?
Jay Marion: Yeah, yeah.
Dan Pashman: That was the dream.
Jay Marion: That was the vision, yes. [LAUGHS]
Dan Pashman: Coming up, everything changes. Stick around.
+++ BREAK +++
Dan Pashman: Welcome back to The Sporkful, I’m Dan Pashman. In last week’s show, I go to a famous Pickle Festival on Long Island, near where I live. There’s actually a history of pickles on Long Island, and there’s one pickle farmer’s story that really caught my attention a few years ago. His name is Samuel Ballton. He escaped slavery, eventually making his way to New York and starting his own cucumber farm. He was so successful one newspaper called him "The Pickle King". But for a long time his story was mostly unknown, including to his own descendants. Now that's changing. His great great great granddaughter, Leighann, learned the story just a few years ago.
CLIP (LEIGHANN BALLTON): I was like …"Wait. What? I love pickles. Do you mean that I could possibly be the pickle princess? That is amazing.
Dan Pashman: I hope you'll check this one out. I think the story of Samuel Ballton tells us a lot about Black contributions to American food and how these stories are told. That one’s up now, check it out.
Dan Pashman: Now, back to the show, back to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and Jay Marion. As you heard, Jay had the foraging knowledge he got from his grandparents, and the business sense to get in early on a growing trend. Digger Jay’s Wild Edibles was not yet at the point where it could support Jay and his wife Pam, but it was a growing side business. The goal was that one day it would become their full time work. In the fall of 2017, Jay was profiled by the website Gastro Obscura with the headline, “The Mountain Man Who Makes Chefs’ Wild Dreams Come True”. But even as that piece came out, things were starting to come apart.
Jay Marion: It could have grown a lot more, but things — you know, I don’t have the money or the time to drive it.
Dan Pashman: Why isn’t Jay able to drive it? The answer has to do with Pam, his wife of 27 years.
Jay Marion: I guess the big part was when she finally got sick enough where she couldn’t work and then didn’t have an income.
Dan Pashman: Pam developed an autoimmune disease in 2017. She couldn’t help with the foraging business, and had to leave her day job, so the couple lost her salary. There was no way Jay could run the foraging business and hold down a day job on his own.
Jay Marion: We’ve kinda struggled all our lives, working together and trying both go toward the same goal of success whatever that success might have been. Then when she got sick enough where she was in the hospital and had to move out, and then that loss of income was really pretty much the devastating point. That was the part that like, okay, now there is no money for nothing but just try to survive.
Dan Pashman: Meanwhile, Pam’s health kept getting worse.
Jay Marion: She was — had so much pain right in the back of the head like right in here that she couldn't function without having narcotics. It was all the sudden, it's like she really got sick and she really lost a lot of weight. She wasn’t eating or nothing and it almost took her away.
Dan Pashman: This past spring, in the middle of this struggle, Jay got the opportunity he had dreamed of. Remember how he wanted to open his own place, where he could sell foraged ingredients, prepared foods, make it a little restaurant? Well, the owner of a nearby cafe came to Jay with an offer.
Jay Marion: She’s like, well, I’m closing it. I’d rather see you do it than anybody else. And I told ‘em, I was like, “Man, I don’t have any money to do this. No investors, no backup money or nothing like that. It’s gotta pay for itself.”
Dan Pashman: At that point it’s been almost 20 years since you saw that Bizarre Foods episode.
Jay Marion: Yeah, probably.
Dan Pashman: And you’ve been working towards this goal of having your own shop.
Jay Marion: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was like, well, okay, here’s an opportunity. Maybe it’s meant to be.
Dan Pashman: Most restaurants don’t turn a profit right off the bat. You need a loan or an investor or money in the bank when you start to give you time to build a following. Jay didn’t have that.
Jay Marion: So I knew from — unless it got really busy, it wasn’t gonna do it.
Dan Pashman: In April, Jay re-opened the restaurant in downtown Verona, serving Appalachian comfort food — things like a country ham sandwich using local pork and dandelion soup. People came in and things were going pretty well … but not well enough. Four months after opening, the café closed for good. Jay didn’t even have time to start selling his own wild edibles there.
Jay Marion: And I think if I had the money to invest in it and keep it going, it would be good because the potential is there. I just didn’t have the money to take out of my pocket and put into it to keep it going. You know, so I was chasing my tail with payroll, so I couldn’t do it. To be honest with you, it was a relief. It was a financial burden. The work burden, that don’t — work is easy. But the financial part and the risk was greater than the pay out. So I'm like, ehh, okay, this is — I’m done. We gotta be done.
Dan Pashman: Pam’s illness and her missing income had already emptied their savings. The restaurant left Jay buried in bills. Today, Pam is living at her dad’s house 10 miles away, cause he’s able to take care of her while Jay works. Pam and Jay don’t get to see each other that often.
Jay Marion: I talk to her, but I usually work, come home, and go to bed. Work, come home, and go to bed. And every once in awhile I get to go out do stuff like this.
Dan Pashman: Pam’s condition is stable, but she still has flare ups that put her back in the hospital. Jay’s working at Lowe’s hardware as much as he can, sometimes 6 or 7 days a week, to pay the bills. And as he explained when we got back in the van, that doesn’t leave much time for foraging trips like this.
Jay Marion: Logistically right now, with just me and the hours that I work at Lowe’s, it’s almost impossible to do this. Because this takes a certain amount of time to do it right and keep the quality level up. Man, this — without anybody to help you, it makes a difference.
Dan Pashman: These day, Jay says he manages to get out foraging maybe once or twice a month. He’s not selling to anyone now. He rents a room of his house on Airbnb, and when people stay there he cooks for them using his wild edibles. The rest of what he finds, he eats himself.
Dan Pashman: After a bit more driving, we turned down a dirt road. We were arriving at one of Jay’s favorite spots ...
Jay Marion: So the pear tree nobody — up ‘til last year, nobody’s got the pears off it but me.
Dan Pashman: Wow, look at that.
Jay Marion: My gosh, look at them, there’s bushels and bushels and bushels on there. And they are really good pears. And the persimmons — look at the persimmons up on that tree.
Dan Pashman: Oh my — that must be a thousand persimmons on that tree.
Jay Marion: Probably so. Isn't that crazy?
Dan Pashman: It looks almost like it’s lit up with christmas lights.
Jay Marion: Yeah. Yeah, it does. And nobody uses them. Now that thing is just drooping with fruit.
Dan Pashman: Yeah, this whole pear tree is sagging over because it’s got so many pears on it.
Jay Marion: It’s nuts, isn’t it?
Dan Pashman: Yeah.
Jay Marion: Yeah, so you can get bushels and bushels and bushels of pears right here. And you know, otherwise nobody would use them or enjoy them.
Dan Pashman: Right.
[GETTING OUT OF THE CAR AND]
Jay Marion: When they fall they usually are so heavy—
Dan Pashman: Look at that, it’s raining pears.
Jay Marion: They bust. You see that?
Dan Pashman: Oh, yeah.
Jay Marion: But that would make good pear wine. There's a bakery over in Charlottesville, she takes them and she makes some nice stuff out of them, you know?
Dan Pashman: Right, right.
Jay Marion: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: So I can’t help but sort of notice a certain irony, Jay, because it’s like your grandparents foraged out of necessity. For your parents, it was sort of a hobby.
Jay Marion: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: Something they loved but they didn’t need to do it.
Jay Marion: Right.
Dan Pashman: Because they were moving up the socioeconomic ladder, they went to college, they worked in the sciences.
Jay Marion: Right, right, right.
Dan Pashman: And then you end up in a situation where you have to forage partly for necessity.
Jay Marion: Correct. Yeah.
Dan Pashman: How did that feel?
Jay Marion: Oh, it's okay. It feels okay. I mean, I like doing it, so it’s not bad. It’s a nice office, you know?
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHING]
Jay Marion: Right?
Dan Pashman: Yeah, it is gorgeous out here right now.
Jay Marion: Yeah, yeah. And it does help pay the bills. I guess, it’ll get better. I think someday it’ll get better. Everything has it's — sometimes you’re in the mud, and sometimes you’re up on top of the wheel, and it just keeps going. [LAUGHS]
Jay Marion: When they fall, they usually …
Dan Pashman: Despite all those pears in the tree, Jay only took maybe 10 of them. He doesn’t have time to sell bushels and bushels. He’s too busy working.I asked him what kind of future he sees for his foraging business.
Jay Marion: Not 100% sure. I’ve tried to teach my son. I tried to teach my grandsons about it, so maybe they’ll step up and try to make something. It’s not about the money. So I mean, you gotta make money because you have to pay your bills. I get that, and that’s not what I’m saying, but if it’s totally money-driven, then you’re going to miss the part of the goodness of it.
Dan Pashman: And so what is that for you? What is the service? What's the goodness of this work for you?
Jay Marion: To have people enjoy it. They can take it from that tree to a chef or a pastry maker or someone can make jams and jellies, and they can do their thing and get it out to other people who would’ve never ever tasted what came from that tree, that’s the payout.
Dan Pashman: That’s Jay Marion, his company is Digger Jay’s Wild Edibles. We originally aired this episode in 2019. We got back in touch with Jay recently and he told us that he’s still doing some work as Digger Jay’s. He's trying to re-establish his restaurant connections. He’s started dabbling in making wine and mead. And he’s working on a cookbook and other writing about his foraging adventures. He told us, “I’m always looking to grow and try new things. Exploring ways to touch and improve someone's day or life, even for just a moment. That gives me great satisfaction.” Jay also said that his wife Pam is doing much better than she was a few years ago.
Dan Pashman: Next week on the show, the writers Jiayang Fan and Samantha Irby take your calls! They’ll help to try to solve some food disputes and weigh in on your hottest food takes. It's gonna be a lot of fun. That's next week.
Dan Pashman: While you’re waiting for that one, make sure you check out last week's show about the surprising history of the Pickle King of Long Island.