One of life’s simplest pleasures is foraging. There’s nothing quite like going out into the countryside or seaside and coming home with some delicious treasures to eat or beautiful gems to decorate your home with. Not only does it slow us down and connect us back to nature but it also makes us aware of the importance of caring for the environment. The more people connect to nature, the more they will be inclined to change destructive habits in order to protect the natural world. Moreover, foraging gives you access to a wonderful source of delicious non-pesticide-covered food and it’s all packaging free, It's good for you and good for the environment.
Most of us foraged when we were children. For my family, summers were often spent with our Auntie Win on the island of Jersey. She was highly skilled at foraging on the beach. We would go winkling together, gathering bucketfuls of tiny black sea snails that we would then go home and eat with a pin. Shrimping was another of her skills. Auntie Win would go in first striding into the pools up to her knees (still wearing her ‘Nylons’) and dig deep into the seaweed with her special shrimping net (a net with one side straight acting like a shovel). When she lifted the net out, it would be alive with little shrimps hopping about often on top of a bad-tempered crab.
These days my foraging is mainly in the countryside and this time of year is simply perfect. We spent last weekend in the mountains and our long walks were interspersed with periods of mushrooming. The satisfaction of finding a beautiful ‘bolet’ nestled into a bed of moss is hard to beat. No matter how practised one is at mushroom hunting, it is always worth checking with an expert to avoid an unpleasant reaction. Often, they aren’t poisonous but can simply taste awful.
A late summer walk would also seem incomplete without a forage into a hedgerow for some delicious sun-ripened blackberries. I also love to gather a branch of berries to use in an autumnal arrangement. Fruit and berries mixed in with late summer flowers such as dahlias and sunflowers can make a stunning autumn arrangement.
There is so much that you can gather from the surrounding countryside from edible weeds, herbs, nuts and mushrooms to sun-ripened berries. It’s such a simple way to get the whole family outdoors but remember to forage responsibly and sustainably in order to avoid damaging the environment and to leave enough for everybody to share.