“I always wonder why people buy blackberries when they are right here outside, ” says foraging teacher Fabio Godinho, as he plucks the fruit.
Fabio is exploring the hedgerow in Woodmansterne Recreation Ground, a Surrey park commonly known for its sports facilities.
The Banstead common also features an abundance of fresh ingredients, which he says can be used in a range of recipes.
A nearby elder tree offers three harvests: the flowers, which attain elderflower champagne; the berries, good for a dressing similar to balsamic; and the Jelly Ear fungus, often added to Asian cuisine.
But, while that mushroom would provide a substantial ingredient in a stir fry, would it be feasible to survive solely on foraged food?
As the average person is recommended to eat at least 2,000 calories a day, including 50 g of protein, it would not be easy. But foragers say sustainably-sourced wild food can certainly supplement a normal diet.
“I like finding things I couldn’t get in the shops, ” notes Fabio, who leads foraging courses full-time for Wild Food UK in Herefordshire.
Marlow Renton, director of the same company, adds that foraging presents a wide variety of common plants, available both in rural and urban areas, which could be used in place of everyday ingredients.
“You can induce cheap, tasty snacks and tick off all the food groups, as long as you know how about storage, ” he says.
“I could make a veggie roast dinner after an hour’s walk within the M2 5. Burdock root grows widely – you could roast that.”
And he adds that people would have to drastically reduce their meat intake if feeing a foraged-led diet, while also allowing more hour for harvesting – and would need to stock up on a range of store cupboard ingredients that would be needed to bulk up meals.
Follow the Countryside Code. Seek permission from the landowner and check for by-laws. Do not eat anything unless 100% sure of its identification. Pick no more than half of what you find and minimise damage to the nearby habitat. Image caption Image caption ‘Mushroom foraging saved me from my grief’ Is there such a thing as a free lunch ? Image caption Image caption