Many people have found the joys in growing their own veggies, fruits, and herbs, or hunting for their own meats. But what about foraging? No surprise, there are some amazing health benefits of foraging your own herbs and foods! There are many incredible foods and herbs that can be found nearby but can’t be grown in your garden. Foods that have an incredible punch of nutrients and healing power.
I never thought I’d be someone who would enjoy foraging for my own food. I will say, for a city girl, I’m fairly crunchy. However, I never thought I’d see the day that I’d be walking out into the wilderness and picking my own fruits, herbs, and mushrooms. To be more accurate, I never thought I’d see the day that I could meander out to the woods and know which ones were safe or not.
It wasn’t until I moved to Finland that I realized how useful this skill is. Finland has so many edibles in their wild that they have a special visa for people who want to come over and forage for a few months. Things like cloudberries, wild blue berries, chanterelle mushrooms, nettles, and so much more.
I recently started taking the Botany and Wildcrafting course from The Herbal Academy. This short course has been so eye opening and inspirational. Every time I take a walk through the greenbelts I find something new that I could pick…or even in yesterday’s case, a poisonous thing that looks like an edible thing (Lily of the Valley growing everywhere! Thank you Outlander for teaching me the leaves look like wood garlic! Who says you can’t learn something from fiction?).
5 Benefits of Foraging
1. Foraging is healthy!
Of course this would be the first on the list! There is no junk food in nature. Cultivated food often loses it’s nutritional punch as time goes on thanks to modern farming practices. Soil nutrient depletion tends to be an ongoing problem. Wild food doesn’t have this problem. You just have to make sure you forage in an area that is away from the city and untouched by pesticides and other chemicals for the optimal nutritional benefits.
2. Foraging Helps You Get Back To The Land
It’s still a favorite summer tradition for the people who live here. Everything slows down in the summer, and people go to their summer cottages on one of the thousands of lakes here. They swim around, spend time in the sauna, and go forage for all the deliciousness that can be found nearby.
3. Foraging is Free
Budget friendly food and recipes is one of the most searched topics in recent years, and one that is only growing in need and popularity. Foraging for your food is one fabulous answer to that. It only costs you the gas money to drive to a region
4. You Get Fresh Air and Your Exercise Too!
It may not be the heart pumping gym session you may normally get but a little hike in nature is a wonderfully pleasant alternative.
5. Foraging changes your perspective
It’s true! You probably already know a lot of the plants you see; Dandelion being the most common example of this. But once you start paying attention and learning you see that edibles are everywhere!! A normal stroll outside….even in the city where you probably shouldn’t pick your food, becomes an adventure.
3 Tips on Getting Started
1. Don’t just pick any pretty plant
While you probably know more than you think, it is helpful to have some knowledge of plants. I know a lot of people that forage claim that you’re not going to poison yourself, but personally, I think the more you know the more you can do. More knowledge means you can better protect yourself (think of my Lily of the Valley discovery above), or greatly expand the number of edibles you are able to collect.
This is one of the things that impressed me about the Botany and Wildcrafting course I mentioned. They give you everything you need to know to get started including an in depth look at 25 plants you can forage as well as how to recognize plants that you should keep away from. The information is science based, but not hard to follow.
2. Don’t pick in the city
Plants absorb all the chemicals and pollutions in the air. So if you eat a plant that has absorbed all of that, then you then consume all the chemicals and pollution. Take a little drive and find a place a few miles away from all that, and your food will not only be fewer in chemicals but it will taste better too!
3. Be Respectful
Respect comes in many forms when it comes to nature. One way is to practice ethical foraging when you’re out. With foraging making a comeback, some plants are actually being over foraged. Be sure to spread out where you pick to avoid this issue. Also, watch where you step. There are lots of animals that like to hide out there (Vipers, are the ones I get to watch out for). Protective clothing can make all the difference in the world, especially when it comes to ticks and mosquitos!
Next time you’re taking a stroll through the wilderness, take a look around you and notice all the wonderful and useful plants. It’s amazing how the perspective shifts when you know what these plants can do. The benefits of foraging for herbs and food are far more numerous that I can write here, but you have start somewhere, right?
Have you ever tried foraging? Tell me about your experience in the comments!