How to forage safely with your child

A beginner's guide to picking your own fresh and wild ingredients

How to forage safely with your child

Foraging is a lost art in Britain but in mainland Europe, families often incorporate wild food into their diets. You can live off wild food, although you have to be very committed to do so. But even if you don’t want to turn into Mowgli and live in the woods, foraging is an activity that children and parents can enjoy together. Some parents might be hesitant because of possible dangers. It’s true that some plants can scratch or sting; others can be poisonous and there is also the chance of pollution – for example, if you have berries growing in hedgerows along a busy road. Without sounding too scoutish, the key is to be prepared:

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Be clear about what you are picking and tell your child not to put anything in her mouth unless you say so. Although foraging for food seem to create a loophole in the parental rule that plants are not for eating, most children can understand that you are the one who can make the exemptions.

If there are thorns then everyone should wear gloves, this goes for picking nettles too – make it a game and pretend to be robots who cant be scratched or stung by anything.

Know the area you are foraging within; if there is the potential for pollution, then find another site.

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When it comes to eating the food, check online or in one of the many foraging books available about how it should be prepared. Food for free by Richard Mabey or www.wildfoodschool.co.uk are both excellent resources for identifying the best foraging areas, and what foods to avoid.