::Book cover image from Amazon::
What bliss, I've actually won a giveaway! I can't begin to tell how thrilled I was yesterday morning to learn that my name was plucked from the wellie boot as the lucky recipient of this book: Collins Gem - Food For Free (The last prize I won was a Cliff Richard single from a packet of Smiths Crisps when I was 8. This one's been a long time coming.) The book was given away by Damien who writes over on Two Chances Veg Plot and is a very active member of the UK Veg Gardeners network as well as introducing his young family to the delights of foraging earlier this autumn.
I love the idea of wild food from nature. Wonderful word, foraging. When applied to people, rather than - in its original usage - animals, what a fine concept this is for 21st century self-sufficient(ish) living and becoming reconnected to the earth around us. It's old Middle English used from the 14th century to refer to cattle wandering the land, grazing for fodder or food – forage being both (verb) the act of searching and (noun) the food itself. Obviously I've been in touch with my Inner Cow for some time as I love to munch as I walk.
It would be somewhat impractical to totally embrace hedgerow eating but I feel such a townie by having no idea what I'm looking at when out on the Heath or further afield in the countryside or coast. I'm in awe of people who return from a walk with armfuls of elderberries, sloes, rose hips and wild mushrooms. This book, I'm hoping, will help me to swell their ranks. In my Cornish childhood, my father would take all four of us out walking the airfields in the early morning mists to gather large field mushrooms for breakfast - an awesome experience, akin to treasure hunting, and such fun. Expeditions like this and other nature walks full of shared knowledge were, I'm sure, partly responsible for a lifelong love of being outdoors and fostered a healthy sense of curiosity and adventure.
Children on our estate go mad for the bramble berries that grow over from the railway lines and rush to pick up nuts and berries outdoors ("Can I eat this?"). Now, at last, I'll be able to say with more certainty, Ye-ess or, more probably, No!
Expect more posts about my foraged finds - I did see some very promising red berries on the Heath just the other day! (Although those might end up wired into christmas decorations.)