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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Dont Collect Chestnuts

I do sometimes think "is it ok for me to collect wild food" because surely there are lots of wildlife who cant go to tesco if they dont find any nuts in the woods that day. And generally people like the guys at River Cottage and other proponents of wild food collecting give the answer more or less of "yes its fine, there is plenty to go round, so long as you always leave a bit of it ie dont dig up ALL the truffles you can find in one spot."

Now I know the deer in Richmond Park are not a "naturally occurring" species in a "natural" environment but even so I found this interesting. I was up there on an early morning to photograph the deer with a friend and saw this notice.

I hadn't seen that sign when I collected the chestnuts last time.

I have taken an interest in the past in the idea of eating invasive species so will start to investigate that as an alternative. We could act as a biological control agent, enhancing the biodiversity rather than damaging it, by making conscious choices about what we eat and using wild resources in a balancing rather than 'i eat what i am interested in' sort of a way.

And now here are some nice pictures of deer and chestnut trees:


  1. Excellent musing. One thing would-be foragers need to be very careful of is strip-mining the land of wild edible plants.

    A while back I made a post on my wild food blog about harvesting seaweed for personal use. And this morning I received a phone call from a chap who wanted to come down to my town and harvest some. And I knew his intentions because he told me.

    This is the problem of writing and spreading the message about foraging wild foods. Some people will see commercial use and rape the land, as has happened in the New Forest with the mushrooms.

    Foraging is about respecting the landbase and its inhabitants both human, and non-human. And only taking what you need for that day. There will always be more, and if there's one thing that I have learned about nature is that in most instances it is extremely abundant.

  2. Taking the wild things for commercial use is also a problem although if it is fairly done it can actually help to sustain wild places. If the places dont generate an income sooner or later someone will want it to - so its better they can be maintained than just get another building site/road/airport/supermarket plot.
    But also my point was that none of us actually NEED wild food in the UK, we just do it for pleasure, whereas the wild animals that live about the place, they dont have the option of going to a shop if they cant find any mushrooms that day. We wont starve - they could.
    I know from my own experience which seems to be differne tfrom Wild Robin's, that there wont alwyas be more, and that nature isnt always abundant. And i was prompted to take these thoughts further when I saw the sign about the deer needing the chestnuts.

  3. I forage blackberries here because they're everywhere, but I don't think anything else. One of my favorite food memories as a kid was picking wild onions and helping my mom use them in stew. I thought it was the best stew ever!

  4. Ooh I would love to find wild onions. Onions are really delicious especially baked or stewed, so sweet. Will have to investigate further.