Foraging – harvesting nature’s bounty
Collecting nature’s bounty from wild plant sources arguably is the most ancient of human activities. For countless millions of years of our evolution, it was essential to our survival. Even ‘modern’ wo/man, i. e. Homo sapiens, subsisted on hunting and foraging for the greatest part of our existence. Agriculture only entered the picture some 12,000 years ago!
During these last 12,000 years of history, we have come to rely on overbred grains and vegetables while the wild relatives, from which they were once derived have largely been forgotten. Only in times of extreme hunger and suffering do they reemerge in our awareness as ‘survival food’. WWII and its aftermath was the last period in history during which large portions of the population supplemented their diet with plants gathered from the wild.
However, since the mid-1990s foraging has experienced a ‘renaissance’. A whole social movement of foragers has grown steadily as agriculture has become ever more technologized and farms have mutated into industrial food factories. Dissatisfied with the bland and nutritionally poor mass-produced fruit and vegetables, foragers have turned to the age-old craft of gathering foods from the wild. Most foragers engage with wild plants simply as a food adventure, supplementing their regular diets with occasional wild treats. But some go to the extreme and concoct quite distinguished wild food delicacies. This is gourmet foraging, a far cry from ‘survival food’.
This section of this website explores different plants and their potential as wild foods. It includes recipes and gathering tips as well as cautionary warnings. Just because something is natural does not mean it is safe to eat! Some plants are edible only during a particular stage of their growth phase or need special preparation in order to render them harmless. Allergies and contamination can also be a problem. Before attempting to gather any plants for consumption make sure you can positively identify and distinguish it from any possible poisonous look-alikes. Please read and internalize the foraging rules before you start with any self-experimentation.
Disclaimer: The information given in these pages is for educational purposes only.
Sugar Maple is an iconic tree of the northeastern parts of the US. Its display of bright orange and red fall foliage is world-famous.
Wintercress is winter-hardy and can be foraged during the winter. It is rich in vitamin C and A and used to be known as an ‘anti-scurvy’-herb.
Jerusalem Artichokes are the perfect edimental, spreading lovely late summer cheer and providing nourishing goodness through the winter. And they are very versatile, too!
Rose hips are packed full of vitamin C and an excellent immune system booster. Most people know the tea, but the syrup is super delicious!
Summer is berry bliss. Bilberries are not just delicious but also incredibly healthy. Medicinal information and recipes.
I adore wild strawberries! As far as I am concerned they are the ULTIMATE wild food.
Burdock may not be the prettiest herb, but it is certainly one of the most eye-catching. Its huge leaves and burly flowers are highly conspicuous. And it has plenty to offer.
Everybody loves Dandelions! Nothing gladdens the heart more than the sight of a meadow covered in its bright yellow bloom.
Few herbs are as generous as the humble stinging nettle. Inconspicuous, it assumes a modest corner in the garden: untended areas, half in the shade, perhaps near the compost where the soil is rich with nitrogen. Inconspicuous that is, until one happens to brush against it carelessly – which jolts our awareness rather painfully.
Wild Garlic, or Ramsons are a forager’s delight! A marvellous spring tonic and delicious wild kitchen treat, this versatile herb can be used in many ways. This Pesto is just one idea.
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