▶ Watch Video: Woman known online as the Black Forager on finding wild edible plants for meals

A social media star is showing her followers how to get groceries for free — by foraging for food in the wild. Alexis Nikole Nelson took CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas to the woods near her home in Columbus, Ohio, to forge for edible plants.

“There’s something that just puts a smile on my face, that gets my heart racing,” Nelson said about her adventures. “I feel so connected to my surroundings.”

She said she’s turned her passion into a profession by sharing her edible plants and recipes to millions on social media. Most clips conclude with a warning to remind people to be 100% sure a plant is safe before consuming it.

“I say, ‘happy snacking, don’t die,’ at the end of most of my videos, mostly in jest, but also like — seriously, don’t die,” Nelson said.

Foraging expert Samuel Thayer, Nelson’s mentor and the author of several guidebooks, said he’s seen interest in foraging surge since the pandemic emptied store shelves and drove people outdoors.

“If you’re a foodie, there’s flavors you cannot buy, and it’s really fun,” Thayer said. “I can’t imagine why it’s taken so long for it to catch on.”

Thayer hosts plant walks around the country.

“It doesn’t take long for me to really surprise somebody because they might be afraid it’s not gonna taste good,” he responded when asked what it was like to walk with someone new to foraging. “I give them something and they’re like, ‘Whoa! That is good!’ Their eyes open wide and their ears perk up and they’re following me, they’re eager for the next plant.”

For Nelson, foraging takes on a deeper meaning. She said it’s a way to connect with her father’s indigenous ancestry and confront a history of systemic racism in America’s national parks, which were segregated until the mid-1940s.

To avoid trouble in natural spaces, Nelson said she dresses to appear as approachable as possible.

“No one’s gonna look and be like, ‘Ah, yes, the girl in the cotton-candy dress. I feel like she means trouble,'” she said. “I also love an over-sized hoodie, but that’s not gonna be what you find me out here in, for sure.”

Nelson also said it’s easy to climb a tree in a dress.

Back home in her kitchen, Nelson and Yuccas whip up an all-veggie feast.

“You can’t just look up a recipe online and be like ‘Okay, I’m gonna get everything to make that,'” Nelson said. “It’s kind of makes, like a competition cooking show. You go out and get what you get and then you got to think of what you’re going make with it once you get home.”

“I just hope we’re raising up a generation of people who, regardless of what they look like or what their background is everyone feels entitled to the outdoors if that’s a place you wanna be,” she added.

Nelson received the James Beard Award in June for her social media account. The James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit, said its mission is “to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability.”