If you are to look at the publishing trends of books that discuss the topic of wild food and foraging, you will notice that they tend to increase in significant popularity during the occurrence of certain notable periods. These periods are as follows:
World War I, World War II, and right now.
It is quite simple to infer why books that advise households on how to source nutrition and flavour from their local environments would see increased demand during periods of scarcity and hardship. We may currently, and thankfully, not be experiencing World War III at this moment but there are a number of growing parallels in the circumstances now facing households. The cost of living is rising, with concerning trade-offs facing individuals, such as the choice of heating or eating.
Foraging may not be the panacea our society needs to remedy all hardship but its value is extremely useful and can aid individuals and households in a number of ways, especially with food costs and diet. This is why, since Vix Hill-Ryder first started the Family Foraging Kitchen over ten years ago, empowering individuals with the knowledge to source foods from local landscapes has been the core mission. It’s why we offer free foraging courses for low and no-income households, why, for over two years, we delivered free foraged ingredients boxes and recipes, and why we continue to seek ways and initiatives that allow us to improve the foraging knowledge and confidence within communities.
Wild food is, however, surrounded by a number of wrongful associations. Some might perceive these benefits to serve only those facing food insecurity, perhaps looking down upon the act of using nettles in the kitchen. Others, conversely, might perceive foraging to be an indulgent and fanciful activity with no true and practical application, failing to see how a stroll through the countryside could ever feed a family. Both perceptions are wrong. Sourcing wild foods, whether from the hedgerow, forest, or shore, is an activity that can benefit everyone.
So, does this mean that households should begin sourcing all of their dietary indulgences from the hedgerow? Of course not. There are a number of considerations and caveats to be made, regarding safety and environmental sustainability, and they are described during every foraging walk we host. Once, however, this understanding is made clear, budding foragers will soon realise that a significant part of their diet can be made up of wild food ingredients, helping them to save money, improve their diet, and stay both active and in touch with nature.
But this is not a perspective we feel needs defending. It is historically evident that wild food has immense benefits within society. The issue is we have, as a society, lost touch with how to obtain it. This is where we want to help.
As an ongoing initiative, we continue to offer free places on all of our foraging walks to low and no-income households across the country. If you are facing food insecurity, please visit our Free Food Forever page to sign up. We also have a Community Food Support Map, which outlines the food support available, as well as general areas for sourcing wild foods, on the Rame Peninsula. And, if you’d like to speak to us in person, whether to chat about wild food or discuss food insecurity options, our Community Food Support Hub doors are open each week (Mon 9 – 3, Wed 9 – 3, Fri, 9 – 3). Come in for a cup of tea/coffee!
The cost of living crisis is not going away soon and there is so much work that needs to be done. Foraging can help, even if it is solely to gain the confidence needed to fill your seasoning rack with wild spices, harvest your own berries for jam, or replace your supermarket salads with luscious hedgerow greens. If you’d like to talk to us about your circumstances, or find out more about the help we offer, please reach out to our team by emailing email@example.com.