Like most home growers, the idea of free food is appealing as well. There’s quite a few things in our hedgerows and woods that are actually edible and in some cases pleasurable to eat. Just because you can eat something, doesn’t mean you’ll actually want to!
I recently picked up a copy of Foraging by Paul Chambers. As the name suggests, it’s about the foods available in the wild. It’s actually very good, I had the horrible feeling it might be a ‘bandwagon’ book but far from it.
The author is no dummy, he’s got an MSc and a PhD in micropaleontology. I’d want a GCSE for just spelling that. He’s also an accomplished naturalist with a passion for our countryside. So it’s a well written and organised book.
More importantly, it’s readable. It is a reference book but it’s actually interesting to read even when you’re not looking for something specific. One thing I loved was how he’s organised the plants you might find by habitat. Garden & Urban, Hedgerows & Meadows, Woodlands & Forests, Grasslands & Heath etc. So you can read what’s most relevant to you or to where you are going if you’re planning a trip. There’s also a seasonal calendar and an A-Z listing, all of which help no end. You can easily see what is available in a specific area during a season at a glance.
He quotes a lot of old sayings, some are very interesting. Mind you, the one on nettles didn’t impress my shepherd friend much “A sick sheep must be forced to eat nettles; and when it has so done, the shepherd should piss into its mouth.” Please excuse the olde English vernacular – it was William Ellis who said it in 1749 apparently.
There are clear colour pictures throughout, which are helpful in identification rather than window dressing. Anyway, if you’re into the idea of wild foods and foraging, you could do a lot worse than invest in this book. It’s available from Amazon of course: Foraging: Discover Free Food from Fields, Streets, Gardens and the Coast