Foraging for your food in the countryside is one of the most satisfying things that you will do. There is a wealth of food out there, from berries to mushrooms and herbs and a lot of it just goes to waste as there are not enough people picking them. Of course, a lot of it will be returned to the ecosystem and will provide food for animals to see themselves through the winter. This is an important thing. However, it could also be seen as a wasted opportunity. If you want to forage then read on as this article will outline some rules that each and every forager should live by.
Firstly, you should get to know your local ecosystem really well. Learn the names and identities of all of the weeds, herbs, mushrooms, trees etc in your area and try to generally learn as much as possible. This will put you in good stead for foraging and knowing what to forage and when to forage it. Try and gather a holistic knowledge of the role of each plant within the ecosystem. There will likely be some invasive plants around and it is worth gathering information on these. It is also a good idea to learn any plants that are poisonous so that you can learn to avoid them.
When it comes to poisonous plants you shouldn’t eat anything that you cannot identify. Make sure you check and double check a species before you consume it. Cross referencing is an important activity. There are non edible species that look very similar to edible species so make sure you are certain.
Make sure you know if a plant is endangered or rare. It is both unethical and illegal to pick many endangered plants. Similarly, make sure you are not picking plants from nature reserves.
Never take more than you need and always leave a certain amount of the plant left. Remember that if you remove the roots then the plant will die. Most plants are fairly hardy but they will not recover if you decimate the population. Once you harvested an entire area make sure it is a while before you return. Give it time to recover.
Never collect from areas that are likely to be polluted, such as by rubbish tips or near agricultural fields that have been sprayed with pesticides.
As always in the countryside make sure that you do not leave any litter behind.
Finally, don’t trust yourself 100%. Try before you consume. Rely on your senses. Smell a plant and rub it on your skin. If there isn’t any reaction then it is safe to put it to your lips. If still fine then consume a little. If still fine then consume the whole thing. Always take things slowly.