The Wild Bunch

Thanks for all your comments on the Frugal Top 20 Tips blog entry. There are some really useful extra tips and suggestions among them, which is brilliant, so thanks again and keep them coming!

And thanks too for your comments on the disastrous wild food course we went on. I think you’re quite right and I am definitely going to complain. The more I think about it, the more it worries me that this individual is running these courses.

Meanwhile, DJ and I haven’t been put off learning more about wild food and instead have been trying to find out more from other more useful sources. In our search we came across some great websites and blogs that I thought you might be interested to hear about if you haven’t come across them before. Especially given all the recent publicity about the rising cost of many food stuffs, and with world leaders meeting in Rome to discuss the global food price crisis.

Fergus Drennan is a professional forager based in the UK. He trained as a chef, but decided that he enjoyed being outside in the open air more than he did in the kitchen. And now he runs courses on finding and cooking your own wild food.

But even more extreme, he is currently engaged in an experiment in trying to live on foraged food alone, which is no easy task, even for a professional. It requires an awful lot of planning and organisation, because obviously foraging for food takes a lot of time and cooking the results much preparation. Especially when Fergus is also trying to hold down a full time job and write a book! He recently had to travel abroad and survive on food he packed with him, supplemented by items foraged from the local parks and green spaces he came across!

Fergus says he finds the most difficult thing is time management, because foraging for your food solely from the wild and preparing it for the pot is much more time consuming than simply buying things from the supermarket. And not to make things easy on himself, he is also semi-vegetarian! So he can’t simply go out and take a pot shot at a pigeon if he’s feeling peckish. Although oddly enough, his rules allow the eating of road kill – the idea is that he can eat the meat as long as he wasn’t responsible for killing it. I’m hoping to speak to Fergus soon – he’s a hard man to get hold of as he’s often out in the field looking for wild grub – so let me know if you have any questions you’d like me to ask him.

And another real character we stumbled across was Wildman Steve Brill, a charismatic forager based in the US. Once arrested and cuffed for eating a dandelion leaf in Central Park, he now runs foraging and wild plant tours for kids and adults in parks around the US. There are some useful recipes on his website (link above) for cooking wild plants.

And check out American Green Deane’s videos on YouTube. These are particularly instructive for helping distinguish between particular wild plants that are edible and ones that can easily be mistaken for them. Do bear in mind though, that some of the plants are obviously only found in the US, although the UK does share some plant species such as chickweed.

Remember – if you go foraging for wild food – DON’T EAT ANYTHING UNLESS YOU’RE SURE EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE EATING. Just because it’s ‘natural’ it doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat! There are many toxic plants out there.

Got any good wild food recipes you’d like to share? Let me know and I’ll try them out.

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7 Responses to The Wild Bunch

  1. rik says:

    The most simple "recipe" I\’ve got is just a plain old dandelion sandwich on brown bread. Pick the young leaves as the older, tougher ones can be slightly bitter, it might make your pee cloudy sometimes but thats just it cleaning out you system! Food for Free is probably the best book available for the U.K. at the moment, but I understand Ray Mears is planning something similar as a follow up to his Wild Food book and series. Of course, there\’s also River Cottage and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall\’s "A Cook on the Wild Side" book, which is excellent too.

  2. piper says:

    Thanks Rik. Good old Ray Mears. I\’d like to have him by my side if I were stuck in the jungle somewhere – after all he knows his onions and…er…looks like he eats well!

  3. Christine says:

    What goes around comes around – I\’ve a collection of plants and fruits that grow wild that I know I can use learned from parents and grandparents. A new one to me though was learning from Asian friends that the common weed Good King Henry is a perfectly good alternative to spinach. Anyway – just for your interest pictures of edible wild plants some of which I\’ve used and some not.

  4. James says:

    Can I ask a huuuuuge favour of you please?
     
    Would you please stop using the term \’Semi-Vegetarian\’? The reason I ask, is that it\’s hard enough being a proper Vegetarian, and even more so being a Vegan as I am, without people confusing those who eat fish, or those who only eat chicken on a Friday or whatever. There really is no such thing as a semi-Vegetarian, in much the same way that you can\’t be \’semi-muslim\’ or \’a bit jewish\’ or perhaps \’fractionally-dead!\’
     
    I hate to nit-pick, but could you please create a new term for people such as these? (Pescatarian for a fish muncher perhaps?)
     
    Ta v\’ry much,
     
    James

  5. brenda says:

    going to local farm shop is a good idea if you can get there if you can drive or know someone else is going if not out of luck like me. i am growing my own fruit and veg in my garden and i do bulk buy even when i\’ve got to bus it. also you are polluting the enviroment with car fumes, whereas the bus takes many in one go. if your careful you can save money on shopping even at local stores, mine offers toilet roll at a much cheaper price than asda, its all swings and roundabouts but if you got the time to shop around go for it.

  6. famous says:

    ONLY ONE COMMENT TO MAKE ABOUT WILD FOOD. HAVING REACHED 60 PLUS AND STARTED LIFE ON A WARTIME DIET(EATING HEDGEROW OMELETTE AND GREENS ALONG THE WAY)I FEEL THAT WITH PESTICIDES AND MORE BEING SPRAYED WILLY-NILLY  THESE DAYS  WID FOOD IS SOMETHING OF A GAMBLE AND THAT ORGANIC MAY BE THE WAY TO GO!

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