Well, foraging has a huge range of benefits, if it’s done correctly, and it’s something humans have been doing since we first clambered out of the ooze and into the sunlight. Let’s look at some of these benefits:
If you’re going to forage, whether for salad greens, seeds, nuts, or anything else, you’ve got to get out of the house and move around. In the digital age, we humans don’t do anywhere near as much physical activity as previous generations, because everything’s done for us. Our predecessors had to work to get anything done, from making their own bread to going to the green grocers, the butchers, the chemist, the haberdashery, and a variety of other vendors to get their weekly supplies. We hop online and get it all delivered, or else we just drive up the road to the nearest supermarket, where everything’s all crammed together in one place. So many of us lead very sedentary lives, with some getting no real physical activity, and the extent of their contact with nature and the great outdoors is the trip from the front door to the car. We all know we should get out more and do more, but it can be a challenge. Foraging allows you to focus on something other than actual exercise. You’re busy looking for food, after all, so you bend, stretch, walk, and generally move around. Which means you’re exercising without consciously doing so, improving your general health, flexibility, and range of movement. You’ll find yourself enjoying the great outdoors, getting back to nature, and away from the television, tablet, laptop, desktop, game console, and the rest of our electromagnetic radiation-generating devices. This helps to recharge your batteries, lift your mood, and improve your mental and physical well-being.
Cleaner and Greener
Foraging, when done correctly, gives you the ability to live cleaner and greener. Much of the food you buy at the supermarkets travels hundreds or thousands of miles, racking up a huge carbon footprint. Even if you opt for the “locally grown” produce, often the seeds, fertilizer, and soil, is imported from anywhere around the globe. It’s horrendous for the environment, damages the ozone, and decimates natural resources. So, when you forage, even if you have to get in the car to find somewhere appropriate, you’re massively reducing your household’s carbon footprint. Therefore, foraging helps you achieve a greener home without investing a huge amount of work or money. You’ve got access to organic, natural, sustainable food sources, often right on your doorstep and, while winter and early spring can be lean times for foraging, if you preserve enough of what you harvest, you won’t have to splurge at the supermarket during the leaner periods.
Organic, local produce costs a bomb, whether it’s veg, fruit, or nuts. You have to pay a premium for local, clean food from the shops. However, there’s a treasure trove of organic, sustainable food growing wild, right on your doorstep. It doesn’t cost you a penny, other than a little bit of petrol if you need to drive a few miles to reach open countryside. Living frugally makes sense for all of us – we’d all love to have a few pennies in the bank for an emergency, or to save $XX per month so we can afford that little something extra. So, instead of scrimping and missing out on some of the things you love, why not dramatically reduce your food bill by finding time to forage?
Awaken Your Primal Self
Humans and our ancestors have been hunting/gathering for at least 2.8 million years, and possibly even longer, when we were still tree-dwellers. The need to hunt and gather is a real, basic, primal instinct that used to be essential to our survival. And, even though we’ve evolved into the allegedly civilized creatures that we are today, in our digital age, we really haven’t changed all that much. We have the same basic needs and desires and so, those primal instincts are still there. Us humans are hard-wired to hunt and gather. When we move around, engage in physical activity and harvest our own food, we feel a sense of pride and achievement. We feel good. This isn’t random coincidence. It’s those chemicals in our brains and the primal instinct. Our bodies reward us with these feelings as we indulge our instincts, or our primal selves. Now, while I’m not suggesting we discard our homes and our clothes and go dress in skins, adopt a nomadic life and seek shelter in caves, it does make sense to engage with your primal instincts when it comes to physical activity and gathering food. Try it and see – you’ll feel fabulous. It’s not just good for your body – it’s brilliant for your mental health and well-being, too.
Foraging is a great chance to spend some time together as a family. It’s fun and engaging, and something the whole family can participate in. As a bonding experience, with its sense of fun, reward, and achievement, foraging works well and provides the ideal opportunity to work together. Foraging with the kids is educational, too. But they don’t realize they’re learning, so it doesn’t become an onerous task. Instead, they learn passively, while having fun. This activity teaches them useful life skills, survival skills, and respect for the natural world. For younger children, you can always work in “green classroom” lessons, teaching them the fundamental principles of mathematics, geography, spelling, and more.
So, you can see there’s plenty of benefits to foraging, but before you go haring off picking everything in sight, there are some vital foraging basics you need to know.