Wild Food Foraging.
Foraging for wild food and fungi has been an overriding passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I think that my interest began with my late grandparents whom I spent many a joyous school holiday with.
My maternal grandmother was a Romany gypsy, who had through experience and life, rather than formal education had developed an intimate knowledge of all the wild edible foods that Britain had to offer. I can only imagine her childhood, long days spent combing the hedgerows and byways of the English countryside gathering fresh, in-season wild edibles. A diet that by today's modern standards must have been incredibly healthy.
This essentially is a way of life that our "hunter gatherer" ancestors would have been all too familiar with. They would have known through trial and error, loss and success which foods were good and which were bad. One can only guess how they came to know that cooking certain foods made them more palatable or drove out harmful toxins. Perhaps some tired hunter dropped his food in the fire 10,000 years ago by accident, only to discover when he eventually rescued it, that the taste or texture had improved.
My maternal grandfather was a tree feller by trade and spent his entire life living in the countryside of middle England.
My six weeks school summer holiday spent with my grandparents every year taught me more than any classroom ever did. We would spend whole days wondering through the woodland that surrounded their house, gathering wild foods and fungi, and if we were lucky enough we might even bag a few pheasants or rabbits too.
Now as an adult, I have continued this passion for wild food foraging with my own family, my wife Louise and my young daughter Emily (possibly the only 10 year old girl in Britain who can name a dozen fungi by their Latin names!).
The aim of this section of the website is to bring you not only a comprehensive list of wild edibles with easily understood identification guides but also tips and tricks on how to process the food that you find as well as recipes to try out.
Many websites speak with such ease about "this or that" being edible but never tell you how or what to do with the foods once you find them. If you are into wild food or bushcraft, how many times have you heard some website say "Dandelion root makes a passable substitute for coffee" or "elderflowers can be used to make a refreshing spring drink" but the site goes no further to explain how to achieve these things.
Hopefully, North West Bushcraft will go some way to changing that for you.
Before we go any further into the subject of Wild Food Foraging, we must first take a step back and look at the legal and moral implications of collecting wild plants, berries and fungi.
What The Law Says.
Much of Britain is covered by various laws, designed to protect the wildlife within it and quite rightly so. One of the more notable pieces of Legislation is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. I would advise that you look into this to protect yourself and the environment.
One important factor that you must bare in mind is that it is illegal to dig up any plant by its root without the permission of the landowner and even then, there are some plant that are protected by law from removal.
Also, specific laws on foraging also apply, firstly,the Theft Act 1968, for England and Wales, states that:
"A person who picks mushrooms growing wild on any land, or who picks flowers, fruit or foliage from a plant growing wild on any land, does not (although not in possession of the land) steal what he picks, unless he does it for reward or for sale or other commercial purpose."
So the key factor here is that it has to be for "personal use", if you gather blackberries for instance from private land and make jam with it, then sell the jam for gain or profit, then you are breaking the law.
However, there are other laws that also need to be taken into account when foraging, for instance, it is an offence to forage on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Therefore, whilst it is legal to pick a blackberry, you cannot uproot a pignut or burdock root growing next to the blackberry bush.
What "Morality" Says.
OK, so I'm not going to turn into a tree hugger here and tell you that you mustn't hurt the plants because "they have feelings too man!", but what I am going to advise is that you should always pick or gather responsibly.
Please don't over predate an area and strip every wild edible out of it, like wise please don't go trampling over wild flowers to get to where you need to be.
Remember that you will want to be going back out again in successive years but if you strip the natural resources out of an area, it could take years to re-establish itself.
North West Bushcraft