Food Foraging: Gourmet Food Hunting

Food foraging is the ultimate return to the land and our hunter-gatherer roots. More and more people are going out to the woods (or at least writing about it) and looking for wild, edible foodstuffs which are local to their area. Found in forests, farmer's fields and sea marshes; these seasonal and local foods are neglected, nutritious and novel tasting. It started with "professional" foragers who went out into forests and sea beds to find long-ignored foods for their meals. Local chefs, interested in expanding their menus and offering interesting new foods direct from the land began to hire them as suppliers. They placed orders for such exotica as alexanders, sea beets and wood sorrel. Customers began to get interested in finding these foods themselves. The trend began. Now you can go on organised gourmet food hunts with a leader who will take you directly to the sources. Then the food that has been found is taken back to the chef's restaurant and cooked especially for you and your friends. And you can do it abroad, and in the United States whilst staying in lovely hotels. Tours are being offered in the Spanish Pyrenees, California, Wisconsin and the Caribbean island of Nevis (where you go diving for lobsters and lasso them by the tail). There are debates about where all of this is leading. Some foragers are disenchanted because it is becoming a middle-class leisure pursuit. Others argue that this new widespread interest takes us back to our primeval relationship with the land and will enhance conservation efforts. Or is it the perfect marriage of conservation and commerce? Lots to think about—and to eat. :: Sunday Times