In the last few years, a growing number of urban foragers have drawn attention to the vast range of wild edible plants we are blessed with in the UK and Ireland. On the other hand, we have never found it easier to buy food for our table. Why bother then?
Food, Convenience and Sustainability
These days food is flown in from different parts of the world and processed in large scale industrial operations. Absolutely anything can be bought in the supermarket, yet many of us have no idea how things are grown and where they come from.
We are therefore left detached from our natural landscape, with terrible consequences for our own health and wellbeing. Our ecosystems are broken and nature is already struggling because we are putting too much pressure on precious natural resources.
This process has created an inability for people to nourish, heal and care for themselves; thus knowledge cannot be passed on successive generations anymore, perpetuating unsustainable practices and losing invaluable cultural tradition as a result of the disconnection.
Getting to know our landscape
The rewilding movement aims to reconnect people with the landscape around us, understanding that we are not away from nature, but we are in fact part of nature. Foraging is a lost art that replicates our ancestor’s lifestyles and brings you closer to your surroundings.
Wild food grows around us on our doorstep, along roadsides, gardens, forests and fields; the knowledge that there is a wide range of wild food we can gather all over our local landscape makes us look at it in a completely different way, in which we become part of it and care about.
We foragers have a much deeper relationship with nature, seasons, rhythms and places. We know where plants grow, when they can be picked and how they can be used by us. We appreciate the culinary use and medicinal value of plants, but also their role in the landscape.
Foraging helps us to map the world around us with the idea that nature is not just a place to visit out there, but the ultimate resource we have to sustain our species. We are celebrating nature and so enriching our culture and history for the benefit of future generations.
In search of sustainable food
Foraging is an act of rebellion against the current food system that questions the notion of food as a mere commodity and offers a low impact alternative to feed ourselves. There is neither food packaging nor waste, no agriculture chemicals sprayed and no carbon footprint as a result of the process.
This is not to suggest that we should be sourcing all our food from the wild, but I firmly believe mindful foraging is the key to understand the role of our local landscape to encourage us to find and combine more sustainable ways to procure our food, such as permaculture or grow your own.
Eventually, foraging creates environmental and social awareness, which is this first step for a more conscious and caring society, much needed in today’s world. What are your thoughts?