Wild food and Drink Podcast – Beginner’s foraging special

Andy Hamilton forages for the Arnofini

Following this strange man into the bushes

This month’s wild food and drink podcast is aimed squarely at those who are just starting out at foraging. I cover some of the most asked questions. Such as…

How easy is it to kill myself when foraging?

Are you not worried about dog wee on the plants?

What are the dangers of foraging in a city?

Do you need a degree in botany?

Dog Wee and foraging

Dogs can be a problem. I’d be more worried about dog poo than wee. Dog poo can contain a nasty worm as John from  Forage London and Beyond points out on his blog.

The answer to this dilemma is, of course, to use a bit of common sense, avoid plants that looked like they have been scorched, if they have poo on them leave them alone. Wash plants that come from areas that people walk dogs and try and pick out of the cocked leg “dog wee zone”. Also, I aim to pick plants away from footpaths, beneath trees and most importantly away from the bottom of lamposts!

Inner city foraging dangers

The city has its own hazards that are very different from the problems of the countryside – nosey cows herding around you being my particular favourite. Mostly, you need to know your area. Ask yourself, was heavy industry ever around here, am I near a road, had this area been sprayed recently, and perhaps too – who owns the land. Remember in the UK (at least) it is illegal to dig anything up by the root without the landowners permission.

I once found myself conducting a walk whilst two people were using heroin in a phonebox. The group of 20 people had their back to the users and so they never saw the incident and the users soon scarpered when they saw 20 people turn up whilst they were trying to get a hit. Luckily, I have only ever witnessed this once and have never found any needles whilst out foraging. But if you live in an area where this is a problem then I’m sure you would be on the lookout for this anyway!

Do I need a degree in botany to forage?

Nah! It might help, but as long as you can tell the difference between plants you’ll be fine. It can help to learn the plant families – back to John again – with his great article on 100 plants in 10 minutes. I might have to steal that idea one day John!

 How easy is it to kill myself when foraging? 

Very. Listen to the podcast and find out!

Andy Hamilton

Brewer, forager, broadcaster, spaceman occasional liar

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