Urban Foraging – The Perfect Zero-Waste Activity for all the Family!
We all know a little bit about foraging and we tend to learn that early on. We learn that nettles sting and blackberries taste good! Very few of us tend to expand our knowledge past this point, fears of getting ill and uncertainty when identifying different plants hold us back. About 300,000 plants grow on the earth’s surface or under the sea and around 23% of these are edible to humans. That’s 80,000 edible plants! All it takes is a little knowledge and a curious eye and you could discover a whole wealth of tasty morsels right on your doorstep. Earlier this month I went on Circular Brighton’s urban foraging walk and found out just how easy it can be, a perfect activity for all the family!
We all gathered in the late afternoon by Dyke Road Cafe where we quickly grabbed a bite of pizza rescued from TooGoodToGo before heading out on our urban foraging adventure.
(TooGoodToGo is an app that lets you rescue unsold food from shops and restaurants so it doesn’t go to waste. ‘Best-before’ is not like ‘use-by’ whilst the food may be reduced in quality it is still safe to eat if you are happy to. ToGoodToGo can be downloaded from the app store and google play)
The walk was led by Claire Potter who has just brought out a book ‘Welcome to the Circular Economy: The next step in sustainable living’ and had lots of insight to share with us on both the circular economy and foraging!
Claire led us through Dyke Road Park and down through the Streets to St. Ann’s Well Gardens, a route I have walked many a time without so much as an upward glance. It’s amazing what you miss when you are just walking to get from A to B!
Many treasures were discovered along the way, Himalayan Honeysuckle, grapevines, roses, rosehip, wild raspberries, nettles, hawthorn, and much more. All it takes is a bit of research and a little curiosity and you realise how much is available to us, all for free.
We ended the walk as the sun went down and stopped for a sample of Claire’s homemade elderflower cordial and a picnic of rescued ‘past its date’ food. We even got a sample reading from Claire’s book. A lovely evening with lovely people!
This walk showed me how much there is to be found within the parks, gardens and other little patches of nature around the city. Even ornamental plants can be edible! You don’t need to go out of your way for an adventure, there is so much to be found all around us!
This is why foraging is the perfect activity for families. Its nature’s treasure hunt! It’s exciting for children and adults alike and when you’re done you are left with a bundle of tasty treats to do with what you please. Foraged berries are the perfect zero waste treats and gifts made from your findings have that extra magical and personal touch.
With 7 million tonnes of food being wasted in the UK every year and 800 million people in food poverty, it is clear that we need to collectively change our habits around food. Foraging helps you and your little ones connect with nature and become more aware of how you consume your food and where it comes from. It teaches you to look at things in a different way, be resourceful and flow with the changing seasons.
The best way to learn about what can and can’t be eaten and how to identify plants is to grab a book. Claire recommended John Wright, whose books can be found everywhere and explain everything you need to know. To be on the safe side it’s always best to only eat something if you are really sure what it is and to stay away from things that can easily be confused with something dangerous. If you still feel nervous about foraging or are unsure of where to start, why not look up foraging walks in your local area. These are great because not only do you gain knowledge about what you can and can’t eat but you also where the best foraging spots are near you!
For anyone interested in learning more about the circular economy and getting involved with future events you can follow Circular Brighton on twitter and instagram at @circbrighthove.
Their next event is ‘Will We Shop Til’ We Drop?’ a free online ‘Citizen Challenge’ event which offers ‘a chance to get inspired’ and ‘have your say & influence global policy at COP26 ( the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties )’
Check it out on eventbrite to find out more: