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Guidelines for beginner foragers

• It’s critical when foraging to follow the Country Code at all times: respecting, protecting and enjoying the outdoors; leaving it how we expect to find it and without causing any harm to plants, animals or trees; always ensuring we’re on land with public access and, if not, asking the landowner’s permission to forage.

• For your own safety, take a guide book with you and, if possible, an experienced forager. That way you’ll learn to identify what’s edible – it’s also helpful to know exactly what you’re looking for before you head out. There are many highly poisonous plants, such as hemlock, which are easily mistaken for edible plants. Good guide books have photographs or detailed illustrations to help identify what’s edible.

• When you get home with your bounty, make sure to thoroughly wash everything you find before you cook it so that no pesticides or other baddies make it onto your plate. Finally, be sure to leave lots for others, and only forage from plentiful supplies.

• These vitamin-packed greens are great for our health, and tracking them down helps us connect with the outdoors. Research published in scientific journal Neuroscience even shows that there are friendly bacteria (Mycobacterium vaccae) in soil that can help lift our mood, and with recent speculation that our obsession with hygiene is having a negative affect on our immune systems, getting our hands dirty may not be such a bad thing – especially as we are thought to breathe in this serotonin-boosting bacteria when out in nature.

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