What is Foraging?
One of the most satisfying things about a walk in the countryside is coming home with that fresh air feeling and a well-earned hunger. What if you took home the ingredients for dinner as well and could stretch that feel-good factor to providing a gourmet touch to your meal?
What exactly is it?
Foraging is simply looking for edible food in the wild - such as fruit, nuts, vegetables and fungi.
While foraging has become more popular lately, it is not new. It is something human beings did for millennia. Even as we turned into farmers, we still knew how to supplement our diet with seasonal plants. It is a knowledge that can be lost very quickly over the course of one generation. It’s quite likely your great-grandparents supplemented their diet with wild food.
When we were foragers we had knowledge and access to hundreds of plants. Today, this range has been reduced to less than 10. Half our plant-sourced protein and calories come from just three: maize, rice and wheat. Guess what’s decreased with it? That’s right – nutrition. If you are reaching for a multi-vitamin on a regular basis, you may find that the answer is on your doorstep!
Where do you forage?
The great news is you can forage literally anywhere! You can start in your back garden or even your local park. Believe it or not most of the common “weeds” you are familiar with are edible plants or can be used as a medicinal remedy.
You can take it from there to further afield and it is a great incentive to get outdoors and get some exercise.
The trend nowadays is towards locally sourced produce. I can guarantee you, there is nothing more locally sourced and sustainable than wild food foraged in your neighbourhood!
Some wild plants are superfoods and contain a wide range of nutrition including vitamin C, vitamin A and B, zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium…the list goes on! See nettles (LINK)
When you harvest wild food, you’re finding a source that is at its freshest, is in season and is part of the local biodiversity. Wild food tends to be well-rooted and draws on the minerals of an undisturbed soil. Therefore, you benefit from a greater range of nutrients that are more readily available.
It is also packed full of antioxidants and is free of pesticides and herbicides. Foraged wild foods beats most of the transported, cultivated vegetables that you commonly find in the supermarket on so many levels. Check out my recipes here
What if I find something poisonous?
Many people are worried about poisoning themselves while foraging plants but the good news is that out of earth’s estimated 400,000 species, 300,000 are edible – so while you do need to exercise precaution - the odds are definitely stacked in your favour!
Foraging stretches your comfort zones, takes you out into unexplored parts of nature and helps you take it in – literally and figuratively! It expands your palate and leads you to experience new and unexplored flavours, textures, colours and recipe ideas.
Foraged plants and flowers can also to be added to teas and even used to decorate your food or home. You may also be enticed to dabble in nature herbal remedies, balms and supplements.
In recent years foraged food has become a regular feature on many Michelin star restaurant menus. It adds an exotic taste, texture and feel to the food, and gives it a creative edge. You can do this too – for free - and amaze your friends and family!!
Expand your mind through foraging!
Regular foragers develop an encyclopaedic knowledge of their local ecosystem. It is a knowledge you can take with you everywhere. As the seasons change so does the variety of plants available so it is an interest that is constantly in a state of change and evolution.
There is nothing more exciting than coming across something exotic or a long-lost favourite that is abundant and delicious at the right moment in the season. Once you start to notice the plants in your local area it is hard to unsee them, and you will literally never see your neighbourhood or the world the same way again!
Come foraging with me and learn more!
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