Foraging is a fun way to practice mindfulness and connect with your environment.
It is the act of finding food/ingredients amongst our immediate environment. It is not a simple task, and must involve all senses in order to be safe and effective.
Since popularity has increased in recent years, more information and guides have been popping up, with many people discovering foraging as a way to improve their mental health, reduce their carbon footprint and to be more experimental with cooking/making. Because the act of foraging involves being completely present, it can be a wonderful way to practice mindfulness and stillness.
In a time where we are constantly connected to technology, interacting with nature is ever more important. Access to the countryside is, of course, a privilege. However, foraging is not completely limited to woodland/open green spaces. Many plants we would normally overlook have benefits and flavours we can add to our food. Did you know the humble stinging nettle can make an interesting ingredient?
Common weeds such as dandelions, chickweed, nettles and bittercress can all be collected and added to recipes, covering a diverse range of flavours and tastes.
“Up to 50 per cent of the weeds in an urban garden are edible,” says Fred the Forager (who runs foraging classes in Wiltshire) “Many of these are winter herbs, just like those from the supermarket and yet we try so hard to get rid of them! Getting outdoors to forage improves sleep, gets your heart pumping and improves mental health. You can’t get this from sourcing food in any other way.”*
Foraging also gives us the chance to re-connect with our immediate environment and savour what we see everyday. Who knows, your street might have whole communities of fruits and herbs just waiting to be picked!
Professional forager, Wross Lawrence says of foraging “You notice things you used to walk past every day without acknowledgement, now seeing them in a different light, and discovering whole areas and communities you never knew existed before this new habit of meandering with purpose took ahold of you.”**
Having fun with foraging is fantastic and of course, free. However, there are still some guidelines to go by in order to keep this activity sustainable and responsible:
- Only pick what you know. Try buying a foraging guidebook or doing your research before you go. Some plants/fungi can be poisonous to humans, or at the very least make you very unwell. If you’re unsure, don’t pick it!
- Don’t take all of the plant, leaves or fruit. Try to leave enough so that it can grow back healthily, or if it is a plentiful patch, leave enough for other foragers.
- Never dig up the entire plant - it is currently illegal in the UK.
- Always seek permission from the land owner to forage on private land.
- Do your research regarding foraging overseas, other countries have different regarding what you’re allowed to do.
- Do not collect rare species - more information on these can be found in guide books.
Nature makes us better - https://naturemakesusbetter.co.uk/foraging/