5 Great Food Sourcing Experiences

From lobster to wild game to truffles, you too can hunt and gather

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

To cultivate a little appreciation for food sourcing, you’ll have to get your hands dirty. Start with one of these trips where you can navigate the coast, chase bird dogs, work a farm, or dig for earthy treasures.

Trawl for Shrimp in Brunswick, Georgia

Once the shrimp capital of the world, South Georgia’s moss-draped coast is now better known for its exclusive beach resorts. To track down the area’s original source of pride, ply the coast on the Lady Jane, a working shrimp boat that now offers near-daily tours. You’ll learn how to find, catch, and sort shrimp, then boil them for an ultra-fresh on-deck picnic. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/mmwm)

Note: Each September, even the illustrious Jekyll Island Club (think Rockefellers and Vanderbilts) is home to some casual fun with the annual Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival, which includes a shrimp eating contest and a cook-off for the best shrimp and grits.

Herd Sheep and Make Cheese in Santa Margarita, California

At Rinconada Dairy, a 52-acre Central California ranch renowned for its hand-crafted cheeses, overnight visitors can learn the ropes — from feeding and milking sheep and goats to pressing raw milk and from working the organic garden to gathering eggs from the hen house. When you’re ready to indulge after a hard day of work (or a relaxing day of observation), pair a course of their exquisite artisanal cheeses with local Santa Ynez Valley wines. (Photo courtesy of Rinconada Dairy)

Haul Lobster in Portland, Maine

Cruise Casco Bay with the lobstermen of the Lucky Catch and while helping haul traps, you’ll learn about local lobster culture, efforts to conserve the state’s precious marine resource, and about the crustaceans themselves. Afterward, a “boat discount” raises take-out to a new level. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Casa de Queso)

Note: From June 12 to October 9, you can make the tour part of a two-night package at the famed Inn by the Sea. The only thing better than curling up by the fireplace in a room overlooking the beach? A five-course lobster tasting menu.

Forage for Truffles in Eugene, Oregon

France and Italy have long cornered the truffle market, but American havesters and chefs are fighting to change that. Several states are cultivating the prized fungus and Oregon is working hard to bring attention to its native cache. Decide for yourself if their domestic delicacies stack up at the annual Oregon Truffle Festival. After truffle hunts, truffle dog demonstrations, truffle cooking classes, truffle growing seminars, and a “Grand Truffle Dinner,” you’ll come away a connoisseur. Or would that be too French? (Photo courtesy of Flickr/ulterior epicure)

Hunt Game in Boerne, Texas

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September through March — hunting season — is primetime at Joshua Creek Ranch, a 1,200-acre sporting compound in the hill country outside San Antonio. The creek, river, pastures, and bluffs are chock full of game from trout to deer and from quail to pheasant to turkey. So are the menus. Expect four-course game dinners featuring everything from pheasant tamales to venison carpaccio. Fully-equipped kitchens and backyard grills mean private ranch house guests can even cook up their day’s bounty. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/The Brit_2)