Last year I became really interested in food foraging, or ‘Invisible Food‘ â€“ food from plants most of us don’t even notice. We began attending Invisible Food Walks in London, which really opened my eyes to what there is around us â€“ even in the very urban parts of the world.
As with most things, there are rules and things to bare in mind before you start, for your own safety and that of your environment too.
Foraging Rules for you:
- Be 100% sure of the plant you’re picking to eat. ‘Pretty sure’ isn’t good enough.
- Remember that because one part of a plant is safe to eat doesn’t mean another is â€“ like rhubarb, tomato and potato â€“ the leaves are poisonous but the roots are delicious.
- Pick away from main roads and train lines as the ground is very polluted. If you’re foraging in a park, phone the council and find out what, if any, pesticides they use. If an area is particularly manicured, there’s a good chance there have been chemical sprays â€“ avoid those areas.
- If an area has no bugs â€“ no ladybirds, no birds, no earthy bugs â€“ be wary. It’s possibly been sprayed.
- Preferably pick in areas that haven’t been built on in the last 100 years, as these places shouldn’t have any lead piping in the ground
- Also, where possible, pick higher up on trees to avoid the areas dogs are walked!
- In the UK it is actually illegal to uproot a whole plant in a public area or without the consent of the land owner.
- Like any new food, it’s a good idea to try a small amount the first time to make sure you don’t have a reaction â€“ especially if you’re prone to food allergies.
- Clean your food really well when you get home before eating.
Foragaing Rules for the plant:
- Pick no more than you’re going to eat
- NEVER pick more than a third of the crop â€“ we need new seeds and plants for next year.
- Dont beat or shake a tree to get at its fruit. If it’s ripe, some will have fallen to the ground already.
Foraging Rules for the environment:
- Always stick to places with public rights of way and if you’re on private property make sure to ask permission to forage.
- In national parks, make sure you’re allowed to forage first, and remember it’s illegal to uproot whole plants!
- Beautify â€“ in other words, make sure the area looks as good when you leave as it did when you arrived. (Of course, if you’re foraging for dandelions, it’ll look less flowery, but you’re only taking 1/3rd of the flowers, so you should hardly notice that you were there.) This is also for wild animals â€“ you don’t want to cause them to starve!
- Shut gates behind you so that livestock don’t escape
So, with that in mind, here’sthe lovely, easy recipe for these delicious Dandelion Fritters to get you started.