Foraging. So, as the world of Brexit continues, my first blog had to be the most important thing we need daily to survive. Not our phones, not social media, food. I have added several sites, there are foraging courses, foraging books, and guides. Before trying any of these suggestions please consult your Doctor.
If cannibalism and eating your pets is not on the table. Then I do have several old age solutions. I thought we would look at the from ancient history to the days of World War Two as a guide to what Brexit could well be like, or at the very least limited electricity. Limitations of farming or having to deal with rationing both seem to be good guides of where we can get our food from.
Believe it or not, during the medieval period, peasants or serfs had a relatively good diet. As the labour was intense a large amount of protein was needed. One of the key sources of protein, according to some historians, was salmon. If you are in London, you are in luck. Since 1974, salmon have been found in the river Thames! The reason this is great news is that they are sensitive to pollution, which means the Thames must be clean. Therefore, the salmon is edible. In 2007, the UK government released 5000 baby salmon and it was estimated it would take 10 years for a healthy population to emerge in the River Thames, almost perfect timing! There is even a book from the medieval period about fishing for salmon. The Treatyse of Fishing with an Angle, which was published in 1496, although it does not show how to catch the fish, it shows the flys/hooks that they used to catch the fish. Maybe to them, it was obvious…To make your device, you will need some string, a stick made of hazel shoots, and I’ve heard Japanese knot wood is useful for this, a coke can tab, which you can turn into a metal hook and is available all over the place even in a Brexit anarchy, and a feather, for London, I would suggest small feathers.
Although be aware or be prepared there are other things lurking in the river Thames, which could be edible or put you off being near the Thames. Crocodiles have been spotted in this river as recently as 2017. You may be hungry but so might the crocodile. I have included a link below to someone claiming they have video footage of the beast.
I do not have a crocodile soup recipe or details on how to eat the beast or catch the beast.
You could go for the famous London pigeon. It is estimated that there were 200,000 in London in 2011, and this could be another source of vital protein. They seem relatively docile therefore easy to catch, are much cleaner than you think, and they look quite plump.
If you are hoping for vegetables, then it’s time to head to one of the many parks in London or you could venture to the countryside. Since 1968 the Theft Act has existed that allows for foraging although councils and conservation agencies can pass bylaws to prevent this, so if it has not all gone terribly wrong and the government still exists check this out.
You will need to order a reference book for foods and fungi. Fungi are especially difficult to diagnose so I would not recommend them. To keep your supplies through the year, don’t be greedy only collect from plentiful populations and that way when you come back there will be more available. You need to think about that wildlife population that needs to feed, and you might need to feed off them over the winter!
I can recommend blackberries and raspberries and have probably been eaten by humans for 1000s of years, accounts of their cultivation and farming go as far back as China and Ancient Rome. Both are normally available from the end of summer to autumn.
Nettles, I’m going to assume most of you have experienced this irritating plant. You’re in the woods, shorts or skirt and you get a horrible itching feeling against your legs. Then a section of your leg is covered in little red bumps that itch like hell. Or in your school days, sometimes university, there was the total idiot that would intelligently take a bundle of stinging nettles using their long-sleeved jumper, and they would then chase you and anyone else they could find hitting any bare part of your body with the nettles. (Sting Wars) Well, you can eat it as well! It comes with some significant health benefits according to recent research it may reduce inflammation, hay fever symptoms, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. As for the taste, I’ve not a clue. So far, I’ve not been desperate enough to run the risk of putting the nettles on my tongue. However, there do seem to be recipes out there, which revolve around crushing it into a fine paste and then boiling it.
A safer option is Mint, the more you pick the more it grows! It’s pretty weed like, although it is a herd, once you get into the grown and it has started to spread it is hard to get rid of. However, it’s tasty, can be used in a variety of ways to enhance food or make tea and it is quite abundant.
Dandelions, that yellow plant you will have seen in spring with a yellow almost fluffy head and then changes to a white ball of fluff that when kicked or there is heavy wind the fluff breaks down into tiny floating seeds. I have good news, you can eat it, raw or cooked. It has a slightly bitter taste, but you can add young leaves to salads, sandwiches or pies. The flowers can go well with risotto or omelettes, and you can even make this into beer and wine. The unopened buds can be marinated and used like capers. I’ve not tried this, but I’ve heard that the roots can also be thrown into stir-fries or get this, take the roots, dry them, grind them and you can make a coffee.
Most of these will be available in the parks, or in the countryside of the U.K., if you are not in the U.K. and reading this not to worry, you don’t have a potential food shortage because of Brexit.
Well done on completing your first week survival guide, I hope this foraging course is enough to keep you going over the coming weeks and has taught you at least a basic guide in how to forage.
If you know of any other type of edible foraging food comment below.
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