Between lockdowns and closed borders, we haven’t had a whole lot to do while stuck in our home states. The increase of time spent at home glued to our phones saw us obsessing over a few internet cooking trends that ranged from baking banana bread, whipping coffee and the viral feta pasta dish. Now another new culinary contender, foraging, has entered the chat. Though it’s not exactly new.
A couple of million years ago, supermarkets and their never-ending rotation of hot chooks were still a while off being imagined. Our ancestral predecessors had to eat what they could find and over time became masters in hunting, gathering and foraging for wild food to satisfy their nutritional needs. You could say foraging is in our DNA.
Now in 2021, the pandemic has forced a lot of people and supermarkets to source fresh food more locally, as they are unable to rely on regular farming supply chains. It is this shift in focus that has been the catalyst for some open-minded citizens to start gathering wild foods found in their neighborhood and backyards.
With renewed interest growing in this trending activity, recent studies are showing us that some of the most environmentally friendly, accessible and healthy alternative foods can be found not very far from home. Furthermore, the plants that are most abundant are also the most despised. I’m talking about weeds and dandelions!
A general term given to any plant growing where it is not wanted, weeds are easily the most unwelcome plant in human controlled settings such as gardens and farms. But if we consider that a lot of weeds are non-invasive, can attract pollinators like bees, in many cases are edible, and bear nutritional and medicinal values – it is clear to see why the foraging movement is escalating.
Two people trying to change the stigma around these herbaceous greens are horticulturalists Annie Roser-Rowland and Adam Grubb who in 2009 released The Weed Foragers Handbook, A guide to edible and medicinal weeds in Australia that went on to become an Australian bestseller. This year the duo have come to release a fully illustrated version just for kids, called Lets Eat Weeds, which Annie believes can help us take nutrition into our hands.
I caught up with Annie to talk about her love for foraging, her latest book and ask Why are people so interested in foraging?