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The Foraging Gap

Cleavers, wild mint, three cornered leek and turkey tail mushrooms

The Forgotten Harvest - The Lost Skills of Foraging for Wild Food in the UK

Words and images: Emma Grossmann

Edible seaweed also make for awesome tattoos

Imagine living in a time before the idea of farming really took off. If you wanted food you'd get off your non-lazy ass (laziness wasn’t invented yet), and you’d work all day to go and get it, or suffer the consequences.

Granted, you’d be working in highly efficient teams with some true powerhouse get-it-done types of people, but in my mind, it would have been wholesome, community-led, fulfilling and deserved.

You know, a bit like that feeling when you’ve finally reached the last Instagram reel, right at the bottom? Not getting that vibe? No me neither...

For the love of dandelion honey

The grindstone of time in both the sense of evolution and convenience has steered us in the direction of absent mindedness; our appreciation for true native food sources has a lot of us either blindsided or disillusioned.

From New Zealand lamb to South American strawberries, we are caught in the wheel of trade. Are we losing our grasp on what is ours, and the knowledge we have cradled so preciously until the modern ages...?? In short, yes.

So what is it about foraging that has us feeling so dubious? A hazelnut on a tree fills us with suspicion instead of confidence that a tasty snack is an arms length away.

Nettle crisps!

I can recall many times handing edible plants to friends and family for a nonchalant taste test, only to receive a sniff and a crush between the fingers, followed by a sly drop to the floor with the flick of a wrist. Hey! I totally saw that!

Perhaps it is modern media who are poisoning us instead.

We’ve all heard stories of misidentified plants rendering entire families paralysed for life. Yes, that can absolutely happen. But doesn't the real sadness lie in our inability to secure reliable wild and free food sources that were essential skills from generations before us?

Let’s face it, there are a lot of dying crafts out there - dry stone walling, thatching, glass eye making... but the big daddy without a shadow of a doubt is hunter gathering.

Wild thyme

Now, I'm not putting myself or kin out there as poster children for the foraging movement, but what I can share with you is that when we venture outside, armed with knowledge (safety first) and healthy respect for the environment, we not only have a good time and bring loads of laughter to our lives, but we edge just a wee bit closer to a time when there was a meaningful connection between people and the land.

Its a feel-good thing to forage and snack. Go on. Take a bite.

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