Thursday, 2 September 2010

Foraging, and the attitude of some people towards it... ...

We have been foraging recently, like a lot of people, now is the time for blackberries and other things, like wild plums and apples.

Now before I go any further in my short tale, I would like to point out that foraging is not a new hobby, as it has been described in various articles, in newspapers and on the internet, in fact people have been foraging for thousands of years, and even though we are now in the 21st century foraging is still an activity a lot of people participate in, after all it's free organic food, which would no doubt have a high price tag if you were to buy it from a supermarket, I know that this year we have saved around £25 quid because we picked our own blackberries, yes I did say £25, at the current prices of blackberries at our supermarket, that's quite a saving.

If you know where to look, you can find all sorts of things, so far this summer we have picked about 7kg of blackberries, and about 4kg of plums, this would have cost a few quid, after all the organic stuff you get in supermarkets are higher priced because they are left alone, not sprayed and treated with loads of different things (apparently) I don't recommend you go out an pick the first thing that looks like it might be edible, do some research, get a good book on the subject, while you out an about look at the trees and bushes to see what's growing, then go home and look it up, you don't want to make anyone or yourself ill, or worse.

Once you have found a source or sources of whatever get some bags, or tubs (we used tubs for our blackberry picking) and go pick your bounty, then you can do what we did, so far we've made two lots of blackberry ice cream, three large jars of blackberry and plum jam, a litre of blackberry cordial, which goes nice with lemonade, and I have about a gallon and a half of blackberry wine on the go, and all it takes is a little bit of research to find out where things grow, we're lucky as our blackberries quite near, same goes for the plums and apples, which I've yet to pick, and you can note down where things grow so you can find them again next year, and please if you find a field full of apple trees or such like it's best to find out who owns it, and ask them if they mind you going on to their land and picking a few apples.

Great isn't it ? food for free ? well apparently not, yes it's free, all it requires is a little work on your part, whilst you may get some nice produce you may have to endure what we did on one of our recent foraging trips, we had been into the city to get some shoes for the kids, and on the way back we decided to do a spot of blackberry picking, they are easy to find, there's loads growing on one of the cycle routes into the city, so we walked home down this route, tubs in hand merrily picking away, and after a while we noticed that we were getting some odd looks, that's when the fun began.

No one actually said anything directly to us (I guess they thought we were too strange) but we got the side ways looks that people use when they don't approve of something, those were easy to ignore, I can't ever remember getting such looks from people when I used to go berry picking years ago, but I guess that was another time (feels like it sometimes) as I said the looks were easy to shrug off, there's nothing wrong with foraging.
Then, and here's the best came some comments, now I'm an easy going sort of bloke, but I really wanted to have a go back, but I didn't, I guess I felt my kids and my wife were being insulted (I guess they were in a way) The first comment, was a shame really, a woman and her daughter walked by us, and the daughter was quite interested in what we were doing, however her mother soon squashed any curiosity, and as she walked by she said what we were doing was disgusting ! I swear I felt like sitting on her and feeding her berries until they came out of her ears, although that would have been a waste of perfectly good berries.

It was a shame because this woman's daughter had shown an interest in what we were doing, and her mother could have just as easily explained what was going on with out the comments and attitude, surely that would have been better ? sometimes people really puzzle me.

The next comment had more of a comic value than anything else, we are still laughing about it, shortly after the first comment, a bloke and his daughter walked by, we didn't hear all of the conversation, but we did hear the part when he said "the stinging nettles are there to protect the blackberries from being picked" I'm not making this up, what a plank, although the nettles do a good job, it was a few days before the rash on my arms calmed down :-)

Thanks for reading.

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