Foraging – an introduction

There’s food all around us, says Danielle Lowy, and there IS such a thing as a free lunch! Find out why foraging is addictive and fun.

Access to food is a big topic at the moment. As well as contending with supermarket queues, the whole issue of food production and distribution is being questioned. We’ve taken for granted our access to tropical foods flown in from far afield; the availability of unseasonal vegetables grown and shipped from Europe; and low-cost UK-grown fruit and vegetables, picked by cheap foreign labour. Farmers are worried that these same crops may now rot in the fields, unpicked. 

Some say it’s time to consider simpler systems of food production. And what could be simpler and more natural than picking some of your own food from the wild?

As we are currently living in ever-decreasing geographical circles, now’s a perfect time to look at and take joy from what is nearby, welcoming pleasures gained by life at a slower pace. Whether you are using your once-daily form of outdoor exercise to walk to your local park or wildlife area, or if you’re lucky to have a garden, you’ll discover nature’s generous bounty at your feet.

Ideally, an initial foray into foraging would be with an experienced forager or on a guided workshop. However there are many plants that are easy to recognise, that can be double-checked in a book or online guide. If you feel a little wary of wild plants, take a look in your fridge: where do you think all those fruits and vegetables originated? In the wild of course, before they were cultivated by farmers.

Foraging helps you go back to your roots, connecting with your food in a more natural way. It is only more recent generations that have become suspicious of anything that’s not sanitised and packaged on the supermarket shelf. Nature offers us wild plants foods that are nutritious, as well as having many healing properties.