October 21st, 2018
Foraging for food is a trend that’s on the increase across the country, and there are plenty of fantastic foraging spots here in Wales……
If you’re feeling uninspired by the contents of your kitchen cupboards or the packaged groceries on offer at the supermarket, then you’re not alone. Foraging for food is one of the fastest growing trends in the UK in recent years, as the nation searches for tastier and cheaper alternatives to the ubiquitous shelves of packaged and processed food for sale in the shops.
Foraging is an age-old tradition of gathering food from the wild, and it used to be incredibly common in Britain. In fact it was how most ordinary families survived, especially in lean times, during the war for example. But sometime in the 60s and 70s, when food became all about convenience and science, the art of foraging was lost, for a while. It’s now making a comeback in a big way as enthusiasts not only look for different and unusual ingredients, but they also enjoy connecting with nature and taking pleasure in the quiet and solitude of the landscape, while respecting the incredible diversity of the land and wildlife that surrounds us in the UK.
Adele Nozedar is a forager and author based in South Wales. She’s written several books on the subject, most recently, The Garden Forager and The Hedgerow Handbook. Adele credits the increased appetite for foraging down to a fashionable restaurant.
“The most popular restaurant in the world, Noma, in Copenhagen, is a foraging restaurant” says Adele, “and that might have something to do with it!”
And it’s true that the foraging theme seems to be springing up frequently on menus and on cookery programmes all the time. Many celebrity chefs are experimenting with foraged foods to cater for this growing demand, and some of the top restaurants employ specially trained foragers who head out every day to look for edible delicacies and unusual ingredients.
Foraging spots can be found almost anywhere, Adele claims, and although she has her favourite spots close to home, she also enjoys heading out to new pastures and exploring.
“I forage all over the UK which is something I have deliberately set out to do, since, whilst favourite and familiar places are treasures, finding unexpected or unusual things in places I’ve never been before is really exciting” Adele tells us.
If you’ve been inspired to explore your local area with new eyes then autumn is a great time to start foraging, and one of Adele’s greatest pleasures comes from a distinct sense of the seasons.
“The beauty of foraging is that it is truly seasonal” says Adele. “Seeing plants return every year is like greeting old friends.”
If you’ve been inspired to have a go at foraging this autumn, then Adele has one more piece of advice.
“Start out by picking what you know. Increase your knowledge, don’t take risks and respect the plants.”
If you’d like to have a go at food foraging, follow these simple tips:
- Start close to home – when you’re on your usual walk try to notice more of the plants that you pass. Stop to inspect them and make a note of what you find. Once you start to notice, you’ll be surprised at what you see.
- Go with the seasons – foraging is a highly seasonal activity, and you’ll find very different things in autumn and spring. Do some research about what’s in season before you head out so you know what to look for.
- Never take more than you need – it’s important to forage sustainably so that plants can recover and grow again.
- Be careful with wild food – foraged food can be potent, and mushrooms are a well known hazard. Make sure you can identify that each thing you pick is safe, before you eat it.
- Take a friend – make it a social outing, and you could even pack a picnic.
- And don’t forget a basket or a box to put your pickings in!