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Alexis Nikole Nelson        

Wild Food Maker at BlackForager; TikTok Sensation

At an early age, Alexis Nikole Nelson formed a habit of eating items straight from the dirt outdoors. It wasn’t as concerning as it seems.

The TikTok sensation has been foraging since her childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. Now located in Columbus, Nelson chronicles how to find in-season picks and then explains how to turn the spoils into delicious vegan recipes, from pappaw bread to violet syrup. Thanks to light-hearted humor and infectious enthusiasm, the popular social media account @BlackForager counts more than 4 million followers on TikTok.

Nelson, who’s a Black forager, vegan cook and outdoor educator, has a long family history of farming and growing foods to feed loved ones, foraging was a norm.

Nelson started watching this patch of Atlantic camas two years ago, before she became a TikTok celebrity. And while much has changed for the social media star since then—a book deal, a James Beard award, spending hours outside foraging for wild food in Central Ohio, looks very much the same for Nelson. Although now she is recognized more often. During another outing at Jeffrey Park, she says a couple of teenage boys on the other side of Alum Creek yelled, "Are you that plant lady"?

Her fame has spread beyond social media, with articles about her in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Food & Wine and other national publications, plus appearances on The Kelly Clarkson Show, The Drew Barrymore Show and even a cameo in a TikTok commercial (with other TikTok stars) that also featured Martha Stewart. Today, one does not think of foraging without thinking of Alexis Nikole Nelson.

As Nelson prepares to publish her first book in early 2024—a feat that will give her an even larger audience—she’s learning how to navigate her still-newish fame, all while trying to maintain some degree of personhood as she works to feed the never-ending content machine known as the internet.

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