Wild Food: The Rationale

Have a browse for 'Wild Food' on the www: it appears to be a cult. And so, to an extent, it is. I have many books on wild food and, for the most part, the plants really aren't worth eating! However - it's never that simple. Agreed, it's easy to get addicted to the picking and eating of wild plants simply because they are wild and you enjoy the country activity. I am certain this has a lot to do with our evolution as hunter-gatherers: the old instincts are deep within many people and there can be a special thrill in gathering a wild harvest.

However there are plenty of very special wild plants that are not cultivated because they are too seasonal or too unproductive or too unpredictable or too labour intensive to harvest commercially. Many of these were once important food plants - they have been forgotten because of commercial pressures. These, when you find them, can be very good additions that can really spice up a salad or provide an enhancement to a meal. Many of these unusual foods plants are avalailable commercially and can be cultivastefd - so there realy ids no distinctuin between wild food plants and cultivated.

Another factor in wild foods is identifying a plant before it has flowered - many wild plants are not at their best after flowering, and most of the books and www sites on plant identification do not give good photos of their foliage before flowering. Many of my photos are of young plants not of their flowers.

The site is called 'Food For Free', not 'wild food'. Many of the plants and photos are of 'standard' garden plants. But if they are included here it is because I (or another contributor) have found them interesting - so it's likely I have found different uses for them, or found they are not well covered elsewhere.

The site starts as my own experiences, findings, photographs and interest. There is no point in I essentially duplicating what is already on another site such as Plants For A Future so the initial style is deliberately 'blog' style and anecdotal. However I invite others to contribute to the site - so I do not predict where it may develop.

It is also true that, in order to eat wild plants, you have to know enough about them to be able to recognise good from bad. This fosters an interest in the botany and biology of the plants concerned. That extra interest combines with the remnants of the hunter-gatherer instinct to make the hobby very rewarding - if you are so inclined!

Wild Fruit and wines

Another interest which combines well with Wild Food gathering is wine-making. There are many countryside fruits that can be had in plenty, for free and which are idea to turn into wine. Flowers and even leaves and roots can also be used. Although wine-making is a lapsed hobby now, I have made very palatable wines with free fruit and flowers. My wife and I now run a business and for many years we have not had the time we would like for wild food and wine making, but I am near readiness to retire. When I do so, we have every hope of being able to renew interest in wild food and wine-making. Wines we have made, and which have fond memories, include:

Amongst the flower wines the following are those I remember with pleasure:

In many ways it is a shame that we are now all trapped in a way of life that gives us so little time or motivation to enjoy these simple and natural pursuits. It can certainly be argued that such a lifestyle is better in tune with what we, as a species, evolved to be in harmony with.

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Page first published 20th May, 2001.
Last modified: Sat, 25 Nov 2017 12:58:24 GMT
Written by and © Richard Torrens