Foraging for Food - A Useful Guide
As a survivalist, one of the most important skills you can have is the ability to identify edible plants in the wild. In the UK, there are over 200 edible wild plants, including dandelion, nettle, wild garlic, and elderberry, according to a study published in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. These plants can be a valuable source of nutrition and sustenance in a survival situation, but it's important to know how to identify them correctly and safely.
Foraging for wild food has become increasingly popular in the UK in recent years. A survey conducted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds found that over 60% of people in the UK have foraged for wild food at least once, and over 10% do so on a regular basis. This trend reflects a global reliance on traditional medicine derived from wild plants, estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to be used by around 80% of the world's population.
However, in the UK, it's important to be aware of regulations related to foraging. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prohibits the uprooting of any wild plant without the landowner's permission, and certain protected species cannot be picked or foraged. It's also important to forage in a safe and responsible manner, taking only what you need and leaving enough for the plant to continue to grow and reproduce.
To identify edible plants in the wild, start by familiarizing yourself with common edible plants in your region. The Woodland Trust offers a useful guide to identifying edible plants in the UK, including information on when and where to find them, how to prepare them, and any potential risks or side effects. Learn to identify plants accurately by looking at the plant's leaves, stem, flowers, and fruits. Use a field guide or smartphone app to help you with identification.
It's important to know when to pick edible plants. Some plants are only edible at certain times of the year or during certain stages of growth. For example, some plants may only be edible when the leaves are young and tender. The British Red Cross offers courses on foraging for wild food, including information on how to identify edible plants and how to prepare them safely.
Be cautious of poisonous lookalikes, as some poisonous plants can look similar to edible plants. Learn to identify the differences between the two, and test a small amount of a new plant before consuming it to ensure you don't have an allergic reaction or other negative side effects.
Finally, it's important to prepare the plant properly before consuming it. Some plants may require special preparation to be safe to eat. For example, some plants may need to be cooked to remove toxins or to improve digestibility. Be sure to research how to prepare a plant before consuming it, and always respect the environment by foraging responsibly.
For a list of the some of the most abundant edible wild plants, we suggest you visit Edible Wild Plants: 50 of the the most common UK species.