Whilst out today sporting my basket and several bags of mixed wild foods I attracted the normal funny passing looks and the odd smile , and of course the normal interested party who pluck up the courage to approach me with conversation which always amuses me as I probably would run a mile with the normal questions of “what you doing ?” “What you got there ?”and the most annoying of all “is it safe to eat that ?” But today I was asked a great question by a young couple and they then stuck around and walked for a while whilst I blurted out a response , ” so why do you forage ” My normal answer used to be “
if you have to ask you won’t understand the answer “
I probably heard it somewhere and thought it was good but on reflection it’s a bit condescending and frankly daft so I won’t be using it in that in the same context again .
I make no secret of the fact that I have suffered with mental illness and I allowed this to define large proportions of my life until I came to the realisation that it does not define Me I do ,
you may be thinking that would be a strange way to start a conversation but it really isn’t as foraging is more to me than just food and without knowing that part of my life my explanation to there question would any make partial sense ,
It’s only recently I’ve started to ask myself why I do what I do and I’ve tried to explain it as best I can .
Many people including myself enjoy the separation you feel emotionally and spiritually when out in the wilds that can take many forms from camping/ bushcraft /hiking to simply walking in the local park , it is almost like our mind is able to detract from everyday stress and find a small rest from day to day life , I really do believe the more stressed or unhappy we are consciously or unconsciously determines how wild we have to be before we experience the peace, and for me foraging not only takes me to some spectacular places but I get to take some small part of home with me ,
If you’ve never just sat in a place away from modern day noise and just let yourself go you’ve not lived ,
my favourite times have been led in long grass watching the clouds pass by not thinking just being , hearing a single bug in the undergrowth , a tree dropping a leaf ,the wind in the grass realising how unimportant we really are .
Foraging has become an obsession for me I utterly love the tastes and smells of foods which I have found and picked and cooked it’s not just the doing it it’s the constant change and the knowing that anytime I will find a new edible never seems to lose any excitement , taking the time to carefully to choose the best leaves or the fattest berry and having that connection to your food is why I think it tastes so much better an appreciation for your own efforts is quite satisfying .
Finding a flavour that you have never experienced before as we have lost it within our own history if a great feeling
The most satisfying day I have ever had was a day spent making a willow crayfish trap then finding some wild greens only to find I’ve caught crayfish and I have worked to feed myself was the single most fulfilling day in my life ,
I really don’t think our hunter gathering ancestors had stress in the way we do , going out to hunt or trap or pick food to provide a life for our community everyone having a purpose ,
People now stress about new settees , new car , mortgage payments we are not free we are bound by modern day expectations most of which are self placed
The other great part of foraging is it enhances our perception of waste , as when you put the effort to gain the food it is not like ordering a take out and throwing half of it away because it means nothing to us we have no connection with it at all we actually in the United Kingdom throw away seven million tonnes of food just from our homes a year and this is because we have lost the understanding of foods value .
So why do I forage ? For food , yeah a bit , for peace ? A bit , for satisfaction ? Some
But the main reason I forage is because I choose too and simply because I can
Do I think everyone should forage ? The answer is simple NO I think with food being priced at its highest in history and money being at its hardest to earn if people have the inclination to forage then great I’m sure you won’t be disappointed join a group or take a course get some proper guided advice from one of the many passionate foragers out there absolutely aching to share there knowledge , be sensible and have a open go at it change your thinking and only take what is needed and then use those practises next time your pushing a trolly if we put all the little bits together we make a difference the reason I love foraging is because of the unsaid lessons to learn .