Alexis Nikole Nelson / Black Forager

Illustration by Matt Chessco

    Better known as the Black Forager, Alexis Nikole Nelson is a Columbus-based TikToker whose gleeful foraging content encourages viewers to pay closer and kinder attention to the natural world while reminding us that food is inherently political. Nelson first went viral with her neighborhood quarantine foraging video, which resonated with the many viewers taking lockdown sanity walks and experiencing various degrees of food-sourcing issues, from a lack of grocery delivery time slots to food insecurity. Nelson espouses a foraging practice that is adamantly nonexploitative and prioritizes the plant’s survival and regrowth. If there’s one thing her 2.6 million followers learn, it’s that foraging is as much about giving as it is about taking. She places foraging in the appropriate historical context: Just as foraging helped enslaved Black people survive off the land, the practice can help today’s Black communities feed themselves in the continued struggle against food apartheid. The self-identified “filthy vegan” also teaches her followers how to turn their finds into everything from vegan egg alternatives to teas, liquors, syrups, sugar alternatives, and quick snacks. What makes Nelson special, however, is that she herself is always learning, as seen in her more recent videos about mycology and mushroom foraging. Her addictive curiosity and enthusiasm are paralleled by her sense of humor: She ends each video with the same sign-off, “Happy snacking, don’t die!” Follow: TikTok Twitter Instagram