Foraging from Nature is as old as mankind
Early men had no other way to find food but foraging. In the last ten thousand years we people became alienated / estranged from our food, because of agriculture and urbanisation. The distance keeps growing.
Today collecting wild edible plants remains a good way to obtain some food, but more so, it is a very pleasant and suitable way to get to know nature better, and to become part of it.
If you want to collect wild plants and eat them, you have to know them well. Distinguish them from unedible and poisonous look-alikes.
Their shape, colour, patterns, feel, smell and other specific characteristics have to be familiar before you can safely harvest and eat them.
While doing so, you will probably sense you still carry some remains of the instincts of a prehistoric human beings within us.
Sometimes one just can’t stop harvesting, think of picking blackberries.
You have to get to know the plants that you want to eat very well, not only their appearance but their smell as well, how they feel, where they grow and any special characteristics.
When going on a food hunt in nature, you have to be very attentive and aware of signaling details in your environment.
For instance if plants do not look healthy, for example wilted, with discolorations like brown edges or with little bumps on their leaves, you have te be aware of any cause like little animals, pesticides and plant illnesses.
When in doubt, don’t pick and don’t eat.
Is it allowed to pick plants?
The brief but clear answer is no. In the Netherlands though, there is a culture of permissiveness, of tolerance.
- Picking a small amount of plants for personal use only is tolerated.
- As long as you do so in public green spaces, not in parcs, botanical gardens, private gardens and nature reseves.
- And never pick protected species or you risk a stiff fine as well as causing extinction of rare plants.
- Also keep in mind that other beings such as insects, birds, an mammals have to eat from those same plants.
Doing so you will become a truely sustainable gatherer, with the smallest possible disturbing effect on nature.