Urban foraging

For the cheaper lifestyle, (bin-raiders, allotment-goers), foraging is a must for anyone with a passion for nature. There is an abundance of free food around, whether you live in the city or the country.

How to forage

Where to start foraging? Well, you’ve probably been at it since you were 6, walking along the lane and seeing some blackberries on a bush. Maybe you were stung by a wasp, pricked by a thorn, or ate something that tasted a little sour. Maybe you were at your friend’s house and saw an apple tree in the garden, ran outside to taste one only to find your whole face contort, your tongue fizz, when mum came out and told you it was a cooking apple. Our attraction to tasty-looking forage stems back to the time of hunter-gatherers.

By Vook (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Vook (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 Where can I forage?

There is a wealth of free food out there. Ever smelt wild garlic whilst walking in the park? If you’re passionate about organic food and DIY, you could look into your local allotments. Buy yourself a local plant guide of your county and see what you can find.

Some people are also aware of the huge amounts of waste produced by supermarkets. If you’re feeling like it, head to your nearest large supermarket (namely Tesco, Marks and Spencers, Waitrose, etc) and head behind the building toward the large industrial bins. Often enough, late at night, the bins contain bags upon bags of un-eaten, still-packaged, bin-food. For free! Thrown out for health and safety, this food is still edible but use your common sense to be aware of raw meats and other bacteria. Oh, and leave some for the homeless!

 What should I be careful of?

If you’ve seen Into The Wild, you’ll remember the unfortunate ending for Christopher McCandless when he found himself poisoned and dying in the back his temporary mini-van-home. Not that this won’t necessarily be you, but using a local plant guide can help you distinguish the more serious plants from their edible mimics.

There are also some laws regarding what you can and can’t take, and where. The extensive list is discussed here, but using your common sense can help you steer clear of trouble.

One thing to remember is not to take too much. Leave some for the rabbits, squirrels, food hoarding birds and of course other foragers!