Want to become a forager? A forager is someone (or animal) who searches for wild food sources such as fungi, nuts, berries, and/or plants. Whether you’re new to foraging or a seasoned veteran, this guide will serve as a primer or refresher to everything you’ve ever wanted to know about foraging. Let’s get started!
Preface: Introduction To Foraging
The world of nature is a very vast and spectacular entity. We are gifted an array of free food if we should need it, along with a range of medicinal plants and herbs that can heal many ailments. Foraging was active by many people years ago, and it is very enlightening to be able to bring back attributes from a time that now seems ancient. Hunting and gathering existed prior to 10,000 years ago up until the 20th century. This book is meant to provide the tips and benefits of foraging for everyone interested. There are some plants that are not safe and edible to ingest, and it is a must to know which plants are poisonous and can potentially kill you. There are also less serious adverse effects you want to be aware of like dermatitis and local or systematic allergic reactions from a particular substance.When you forage for the first time, you should only pick from well-known species until you become more familiar with the other types of plants that are available. There are loads of wild nutritional edibles that are available, and during this venture it is important to know how to do it safely, especially as a beginner. I have a strong passion for finding ways to eat as natural as possible and use products that are chemical free as much as possible. It is very interesting to learn that everything you’ve ever needed is right under your nose.
Just imagine how many dishes you could make for free in your city or country. You will discover all the different greens, nuts, berries, flowers, and vegetables that exist. Most of them taste either salty, sweet, sour, bitter or astringent. You can find edible plants in areas like the park, ocean, forest or farm. In areas that are less public and more restrictive, be sure to ask for permission before foraging. You should remain ethical and not wander around on premises without the permission of the owner. It is often uncomfortable at first, but overtime most will also enjoy the knowledge you can bring to them. When you visit the property of a family or a friend, it is much easier to ask them for the OK than it is with a neighbor. No matter where you decide to forage, you should make it a habit to leave some of the plants that you pick to allow them to grow back. Do not be overly excited or greedy to the point where you leave a place barren. Conservation is key when the population is sparse. Attempt to collect no more than ten percent. Another tip would be to collect parts of the plants that you only decide to use. If you feel like you are in the mood for file powder from the sassafras, you should not have to remove the sapling. You want to be able to preserve plants, especially those that that are even more rare. It will beat going to the grocery stores as often as you used to as it is a healthy replacement for foods that we commonly purchase. You will find a few recipes on here that you can try out and see if you like. Foraged vegetables are much more enjoyable to cook, especially because they often look more different from what we usually see. We already heavily depend on agriculture, but foraging brings you a step ahead of that, and you can become more self-sufficient and rely on your muscle power.You will be amazed at the loads of plants you can use in your meals and beverages such as sauces, teas, salads, and sandwiches. Before you use the plants, you, of course, want to make sure you wash them thoroughly. You will see that there are many benefits to eating wild foods other than it being extremely nutritious. There are over 130,000 species out there, most of which we still do not know. Of that number, about 2,000 are readily available in many markets, and only 50 are those are used often. Being able to learn even those 50 types of plants can provide you with a wonderful foraging experience. The great thing about foraging is that it is very easy to learn, and anybody could do it. I will give you a warning though: once you enter the door, there is no going back; you will not be able to. Once you start to learn about a couple of plants, you will want to know much more, and this can grow into a pretty obsessive hobby. Many people have adapted foraging into their new lifestyle as well. It is nice to know that during even the most unexpected of experiences or calamities, you can find a way to relieve yourself of any hunger or thirst. This newfound knowledge is priceless.
There are greens that look very similar to each other and can be mistaken for something that they’re not. Rather than getting confused about the plants that look alike, you want to be able to seamlessly identify the herbs you will be gathering. Plants can sometimes be both good and bad for you. This means that some plants possess parts that are edible for consumption and parts that are not. For instance, though cooked, ripe elderberries are completely safe to consume, you will not want to dare try eating the stems, root or bark because they are highly poisonous. You also want to keep in mind that there will be plants that you can only eat during certain times of the year. For example, stinging nettles must not be used once it goes into the seed.When you initially go foraging it can be fun to do it with others like you within a group. You want to be careful about foraging in places that do not look safe to pick plants. Steer clear from spots that have coats of pollution or contain chemicals along with an array of pesticides. A good tip is to not forage around areas with busy roads. Plants on the ground can easily absorb lead and other hazardous heavy metals. These dangerous toxins can remain settled in the soil for a long time even when the heavy traffic later becomes nonexistent. As a warning for those who may also decide to forage for profit, know whether or not it is possible and legal in your area to do. In most cases, you may not want to move forward with foraging for commercial purposes. Foraging requires a lot of walking, bending, climbing, digging, and stretching. There is a decent amount of physical work to it and can double as a workout. Plants are often very durable, and you can learn how to store them properly to extend their life so they remain fresh. If you are traveling further than where you live to forage, rest assured that herbs are resilient to shipping damage. Plants are tough and can outlive numerous battles for a long period of time as they contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids. Though you can use your plants for a long time and store them to retain freshness, it is better to harvest and eat the greens you picked within a couple of hours. It is fun to forage during the various times of the days and seasons too. There are a couple of reasons why it is important to follow plants through the seasons. First, you want to know it for identification. You also want to follow greens throughout seasons to find everlasting plants you would like to harvest during early spring. While you are first learning plants, you may end up misidentifying one plant for another. There are plants you will only be able to see during certain times and locations. Not all plants thrive in the same area, you will see some that dance in the fields, sandy soil, clay soil, rivers, shade, and sun. It is not difficult to learn how you can tell whether or not most plants are edible from the environment. You will often develop a natural sense of curiosity and be on the lookout for bugs, fecal matter and tracks. During the occasions you come across plants that you do not know about, it is best to stay away from them.
When you start to spend more of your time outdoors, you may start to develop a more refined sense of weather patterns and characteristics. Whether you are one of those people that do or do not, I still find this an interesting instinct to develop. Foraging is very fun and you should not think of it as being some chore. Explore various areas you live around locally and go outside your area if possible. There are three common types of foraging you can do: pedestrian, equestrian and aquatic. Most people will often be pedestrian foragers, which means they will forage while on foot. Pedestrian foragers focus on finding plants from a limited species and thus become a lot more efficient at harvesting them. As an equestrian forager, you are similar to a pedestrian, but are more of an outside traveler. Aquatic foraging involves those who forage around the waters and oceans. Other than finding plants that reside around the waters, you will also commonly find mushrooms. Foraging does not also necessarily mean you are harvesting greens alone. You can incorporate plenty of exciting activities to make your experience more enjoyable. If you would like, you can also go fishing, catch snails, ferret for rabbits, or trap crayfish.
Learning how to forage is a great way to connect with the world. It is like a mix of gardening and hiking. Before you embark on this journey, try to find a good mentor who can give you the confidence and skillset you may need to forage successfully. Also begin learning the habitats that surround you. You will begin to see a pattern of some plants that grow together. People refer to them as companion plants, and they are often be found growing alongside certain species. For example, if you see pokeweed in the area you are searching, there is a good probability you will find yellow docks somewhere. If you find that you often forage and want to continue that, I would recommend you think about cultivating the wild plants you can eat in your garden. It is very simple to move and multiply edible wild plants. You could take ramps and successfully cultivate them under proper conditions should the ramps ever be scarce. You do not want to use plants that have been in contaminated water the same way you would not want to drink dirty water. Practice makes perfect with just about anything you do and the more you do it, the more proficient you will be. Make it your goal to learn at least one new edible plant for every trip you make. Read into all the plants’ uses or potential recipes; especially if they have any medicinal benefits. Happy foraging!
The Foragers Bible
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