Friday, 1 July 2016

How To Forage Safely And Responsibly

If you want to try foraging, there are a few important things to keep in mind so that you can forage sustainably and perhaps even help the environment in the process.

Why forage?

-Many edible wild plants have more nutrients than anything you could ever buy in a shop.
-Your food is always fresh, because it doesn’t need to be transported halfway across the country (or the world!) and it doesn’t need to lay around in the shop for a while either.
-You get a chance to connect with nature and with the natural resources you use
-It helps you think about how plants grow and how you can help nature thrive (e.g. by eating ‘weeds’ first, by helping plants spread their seeds, etc).
-If you are careful about where you pick, then it’s organic!
-If you adhere to foragers’ etiquette, then you can keep coming back for more year after year. Nature will replenish itself! (sometimes with a bit of help from you – the harvester… Now here’s something positive you can contribute to the earth!)
-You sharpen all your senses! Common sense, sense of smell, eye for detail, touch and taste.


1. Make sure the plant you are about to eat is identified correctly and is not poisonous. When in doubt, don’t eat it. Some plants look very similar!
2. Also, know how the plant grows and reproduces, and how common it is in the area (some plants are endangered!). Does it need its flowers or seeds of the berries to reproduce? If so, leave some behind. If you want the plant to continue to grow after harvesting and you are eating the leaves of the plant, make sure you don’t strip the plant of all its leaves.
3. Beware of man-made poisons that are lurking everywhere (pesticides and such). Picking on or close to agricultural land, railroads, lawns and foot paths (neat looking hiking trails) may be hazardous because these places may have been sprayed with dangerous chemicals.
4. And for other creatures’ safety: Watch out for bugs and take care not to squash any. Try to get all insects off your harvest while you are picking for optimal efficiency.

Foragers' guidelines:

-Don’t take more than you need, i.e. what you are going to use that day.
-Only forage plants that are plentiful and thriving.
-Don't pick protected or endangered plants, but do help them thrive or grow your own at home! Google how to do that, as it differs per plant.
- Don’t go to the same place every time. Allow your favorite spots to recover.
-Make sure you know which part of the plant is needed for it to reproduce, and if that part is harvested, then it is especially important to leave a lot of them behind.
-If possible, do not forage in a way that kills the plant/tree: do not pick all the leaves from one plant (leave some behind), take fallen bark rather than cutting bark off a tree, etc. Rules differ depending on the type of plant that is being harvested.
-Don’t step on your food! When you are foraging, take care you are not crushing any plants in the process.

How to get started

If you are not sure where or how to get started, it is a great idea to do the following:
1. Find an organic farm in your area.
2. Ask the farmer if you can assist them with weeding (and whether you can harvest some of the weeds for consumption). May, June and July are your best bets.
3. The farmer can explain to you which plants are weeds and which are not, and how best to remove them. Perhaps they can also tell you which ones are edible, and if not then just look them up on Google. You can share the news with the farmer as well and perhaps harvest some for them too!
4. Help out with weeding while harvesting your veggies (weeds only!). Make sure you help out with weeding regularly and not just to pick weeds. There are usually a lot more weeds than any of us can eat at one time, so perhaps some will end up as compost too.
5. This is a great way to interact with your local community in a win-win! You will learn more about common wild plants (edible weeds) while making some space for the other plants to thrive!

Show Comments: OR

No comments:

Post a Comment