Blackberry season is in its final days, the nettles are still good for a late summer stew and the pears and apples are ripe for picking. Foraging conjures up idyllic settings, wide open spaces, scurrying across forest floor or rummaging amongst the thorns of a bramble bush, but it’s in London’s parks, canal sides and cemeteries where I found this week’s feast.
You know that strawberries don’t grow in little plastic tubs and pears aren’t born nestled in cardboard trays, but you probably think foraging is for the type of person who knows how to erect a shelter from twigs whilst making a fire from bits of stone. But be honest, I’m sure more than a few of us have popped a sweet little blackberry in our mouth when we saw the hoards gather around the bushes with old ice cream tubs and plastic bags, telling ourselves that a little dirt wouldn’t do any harm.
You may even remember seeing those little crab apples on the floor when you were child and thought you’d struck gold and could single handedly end world hunger – until your teacher told you they were poisonous to eat. Whilst our endless pursuit for the most effective weed killers or us warning our children to steer clear of those pesky stinging nettles has some logic behind it, what we are really missing out on is our ability to see food – nutritious and free food – all around us. Yes, even in the City.