I started Foraging Adventures as a way to reconnect people with nature through wild food. I’ve always loved wildlife and the outdoors and so I pursued this interest by completing a degree in Marine Biology at Plymouth University in 2005. Sadly, I found that, through its academic scrutiny, working in scientific research pulled me away from the simple pleasures of the natural world I was studying rather than bringing me closer to it. I left the scientific profession, and for a time I worked as a tree surgeon, putting me in a hands-on role with nature again, but one that was based on getting jobs done rather than being rooted in appreciation and interaction.
Finally, I found that my career path lay in Chinese Medicine, and I trained as an acupuncturist – a profession that I still greatly enjoy today. At its core, Chinese Medicine is rooted in the Eastern philosophy of Daoism, which advocates living in harmony with the natural cycles and rhythms of nature. In doing so we can achieve a deep sense of wellbeing and fulfillment. This made total sense to me, and explained a lot about some of the problems of modern life.
The big shift to wild food foraging came while walking through a wood, when I realised that if I were stranded there for a lengthy period I would almost certainly perish. Without a convenience store I had no way to sustain myself. Yet as a human being, I am an animal, a part of the natural world – how ridiculous that I should have no ability to survive within it, while all around me other animals flourish. My ancestors didn’t have to rely on Tescos! From that moment on, I made it my mission to learn all I could about wild food.
It has taken many years of careful study, beautiful walks and dedication to identifying the species I encounter to get to a point where I am confident about eating many forms of wild food. There is still so much to learn, so many plants and fungi that are still strangers to me. Yet the more I learn, the more I am fascinated by what surrounds me.
In the end, it seems that a varied career path has come together to make wild food foraging the perfect pastime. The scientist in me takes pleasure in the finer points of species identification, using keys and ID guides to work out exactly what has been discovered. Marvelling at the diverse chemical varieties, nutrients and toxins that nature produces. The philosopher in me enjoys the connection that the natural world provides to something that transcends our normal preoccupations with ourselves and expands our mind to inspire wellbeing and creativity. As a therapist, I increasingly marvel at the power of plants to nourish our bodies and fight disease. Finally, as someone who has never quite grown up, nature remains as inspiring, exciting and mysterious as when I was a child. Each Foraging Adventure is a treasure hunt; I hope you will enjoy them.