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Are you part of the Autumn Foraging Boom?

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Up until recently the extent of most of our foraging in the wild extended to the occasional blackberry picking session - so what’s changed?

We documented our own foraging attempts in a blog post back in february and with Autumn soon upon us again we though it would be a good time to revisit the subject.

Why is foraging rising in popularity?

Since the Pandemic and it’s resultant lockdowns took place foraging (the gathering of wild food for free) and an interest in foraging has become more common all over the UK.

This is part of a trend that appeared to already be happening over the last few years but the pandemic certainly hastened it’s growth - Waitrose, for example, have said there was an 89% increase in social media engagement around foraging.

Lots of things have probably fed into speeding up this existing trend - worries about food security and a response to trauma have been suggested - in this article about the growing popularity of foraging in London one interviewee suggested;

“There is something very basic and instinctive about foraging for food and I believe that in times of trauma these natural instincts kick in.”

Another interviewee said:

“Foraging gives me the same thrill as you would get from an easter egg hunt.”

What online foraging resources and groups are there?

Just a a quick search on Facebook reveals lots of groups for foragers or people looking to give it a go - possibly the largest with almost 100k members is UK Wild food larder.

Members of this group share excellent information about what you can eat and what you can’t, for instance this post about why beginners should avoid foraging any plants that look like Celery, Parsley or Carrot!

Another group worth mentioning is Wild Food UK whose Director and Foraging Instructor Marlow Renton, was interviewed for this Guardian article on how foraging has gone mainstream during the pandemic:

Marlow reported that “There’s definitely been a rise in interest,” and that the organisation’s website has “had over a million [visitors] last year – an upturn of about 25%”

If you prefer your information in print (which can be handier out in the field) after some searching and comparison we settled on buying The Foragers Calendar which provides a month by month guide for what you can forage in the woods, fields and seashores of Great Britain.

For instance, in September we could all be out looking for:

Field mushrooms, Hawthorn, Horseradish and Juniper berries

What are the most important rules of foraging?

Potentially foraging in the wild for food without correctly identifying and collecting things could be very damaging and dangerous - This is where the UK Wild food larder is very helpful.

Their Foraging guidelines provide an extensive list of ways to stay safe, including things like;

  • Forage safely, never eat anything if you aren’t 100% sure of the identity and edibility
  • Never use taste to help with identification, very dangerous
  • Be patient, you need to wait to see wild food in all stages of growth to help you with identification, take a couple of seasons to learn each wild food

They also point out that You must fully research all finds yourself and never eat anything based solely on an identification from a Facebook group (cameras can play tricks) and to always take your time with identification, advising a couple of seasons.

Is there anything we should’ve mentioned?

Do you have any thoughts, comments or views on foraging for food in th UK?

Is there anything you think we should have mentioned?

If there is get in touch and let us know – you can also do it on Facebook or Twitter.

By Stuart Paterson at 31 Aug 2021, 00:00 AM