A Guide to Foraging // What it is & How to do it
The definition of foraging is: the acquisition of food by hunting, fishing, or the gathering of plant matter. An even better way to see it is as a nature based 'treasure hunt' where you seek out the wild food growing in your local environment before taking it home and turn it into something great in the kitchen. It's both a practical and necessary tool for survival in some places of the world and a hobby in others. So here you are, your guide to gathering your own food from the wilds around you.
FYI it doesn’t matter if your environment is an urban jungle or rolling hills, with a few tools to hand you’ll be able to find some wild edibles...
1. Use a guide
Guides are essential for helping you properly identify a plant; some guides will also help you to learn the plants medicinal and nutritional properties too which can be hugely beneficial information to have. Not only that, but using a good guide can help you feel confident you are picking the correct plant- keeping you safe as you forage
2. Take a basket & a pair of scissors
Keeping the plants you collect in open air, as a basket allows, will help keep them from sweating. The scissors protect you from thorns and whatnot as well as ensuring you can cut the plant and not uproot it - ensuring its sustainability
3. Wear sturdy shoes & protective clothing
This sounds a bit extreme but on a foraging mission you could find yourself in a field of nettles with your head in a bush full of thorns to reach those berries you have your eyes on! Just think like a scout - be prepared
4. Never take more than you need
It’s good practice to never take more than you need or completely rid a patch of wild plants; this ensures foraging is sustainable and will mean the local birds and animals won’t lose out on what they need to sustain themselves too
5. Avoid taking from polluted areas
This just makes sense. Road sides which are often polluted by vehicle fumes or public places which have been sprayed with chemicals (a telltale sign are chemical deposits on the leaves) - avoid foraging from them! You only want to put good stuff into your body
6. Don’t trespass or uproot any wild plant without permission
From the legal side of things, you obviously shouldn’t trespass on any land to find what you are searching for or take a plant without permission from the landowner. So make sure you know where you are and who’s in charge
7. Leave the environment as you found it
This is a countryside rule to stick to whatever you are up to. To preserve the natural beauty and ecology of an area make sure you don’t leave rubbish or disturb the natural lay of the land as you go about your foraging missions
8. Make sure it’s what you think it is
Never eat a plant that you aren’t completely sure is edible and what you think it is. There are a lot of plants that look similar and one will be poisonous and one completely edible. Hence #1 - take a guide!
These foraging guidelines exist to honour and protect the environment and ecosystems around us as well as keep you safe! Working together in this way, honouring the birds and the animals we share our environment with that also need fuel, ensures a beautiful symbiotic relationship where we all have enough. So take heed and then grab your basket, scissors, guide book and head out there! You won’t regret it. That feeling when you create something in the kitchen that is from your local area and took time to collect (true slow food!) - it’s incomparable. Not only is the feeling of having foraged for what’s on your plate a good one, but there are a huge number of benefits from just having been outdoors that you’ll enjoy too.
Let me know how you get on and if you have any questions.