In an ever-expanding “foodie” culture, people go to great lengths to seek out the best, freshest and most authentic ingredients. The act of foraging itself is not new and many books have been published to help food foragers.
Having said this, foraging has gained popularity over the past few years and has seen a real boom because of the desire to return to a more natural and less processed way of eating. The push for local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients in top-class restaurants has also prompted the growth of foraging.
Tread with caution
- Educate yourself – photo guides and iPhone apps do not sufficiently show plants and their parts for those unfamiliar with vegetation to distinguish the subtle differences that prove a plant edible or poisonous. Instead learn the terminology associated with classification.
- Learn from an expert or attend guided forages.
- Forage in untainted environments. Be wary of vacant lots and roadsides where unknown pollutants can lie both underneath the soil and on vegetation itself.
- Check ordinances in parks and protected lands. Not all natural areas are allowed to be foraged.
- If you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it.
- Tread lightly and only take what you need, don’t strip the entire plant. There are wild creatures that also depend on the plants we forage.
- Have the right tools – carrier bags for bulky items and a selection of Tupperware to protect squashable things like flowers, fruit and fungi. It is also advisable to take a pair of gardeners gloves.