What Are the Pros and Cons of Food Foraging? A Learning Opportunity
Foraging Pros and Cons Infographic
Foraging is fast becoming a popular way to source food, in addition to the food you buy in shops.
Foraging is the equivalent of being a permanent student of nature: it is an ever-learning process as you acquaint yourself with wild plants and their properties.
Pros of Foraging
- You will definitely notice that you spend less money on food; I have saved about 30% of my food budget by sourcing wild foods
- You become more knowledgeable about food and therefore more discerning in your food choices, demanding better quality from supermarket food
- You spend more time outdoors (once you start foraging, you want to go out on more foraging adventures to discover what wild foods are available)
- You appreciate your surroundings more as you start to observe nature, the different seasons and different ecosystems
- You exercise more, as foraging requires you to go out on fairly long walks and sometimes the terrain can be difficult so you engage more muscles for climbing or avoiding obstacles
- Learning about plants can be great fun as it's learning with all your senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch)
- Foraged wild foods can have a better nutritional value compared to shop-bought foods, so you can get more vitamins and minerals
- Cooking with foraged foods opens a whole new world of possibilities in the kitchen as you familiarise yourself with different flavours and experiment with them
- Your palate will become more sophisticated and you will notice that processed meals don't taste as nice as they used to; you will find that most ready meals are too sweet or too salty
- Foraging can be either done solo or as a group; when you go foraging with friends it can be a great day out and a lot of fun
- You learn some essential life skills (see related article), which used to be passed on from generation to generation but that need revisiting
- Foraging requires the presence of wild spaces where insects, birds and other animals can thrive; this creates an ecosystem that is more diverse than manicured lawns and gardens
- Foragers have a better quality of life as they prioritise going out for walks over watching television
- You appreciate a gloomy rainy autumn day if you are picking delicious wild mushrooms
Foraging for Wild FoodClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cons of Foraging
- You need to allocate plenty of time to learning to prevent risking food poisoning or worse; you might find that in your first year of learning you prefer taking pictures and taking notes and discard the foods you have picked
- You will need to brush up on your Latin as knowing the scientific name of plants alongside their common name is essential
- Some wild foods, especially mushrooms, can have high toxicity (some can cause kidney or liver failure)
- It is not advised to teach yourself foraging so learn by attending several foraging walks run by experts (these can be quite expensive)
- Some plants may taste disgusting even if they are edible so be prepared for some shocks!
- Parks and green spaces in urban areas can be polluted, especially if they are near traffic; careless dog owners may not pick up waste after their dogs – dog waste contains harmful toxins so you have to avoid foraging in many green areas
- Beware of fields sprayed with pesticides
- Foraging takes time, as each foraging walk takes 1 to 2 hours each, sometimes more, and sometimes you come home empty-handed
- Careless foraging can harm plants, especially protected plants
- Winter can be a difficult season for foraging as there won't be many plants to forage
Foraging can be a great way to socialise and learn a new life skill. Do you like foraging or are you planning to learn more about foraging? Please share your experience in the comments.