Magic Seaweed – A chat with our ‘All the Good Things’ Forager Angie Nash
The countdown to our next Beach & Wild retreat has begun and we are really excited about all the amazing things we have planned, especially our session with local forager Angie Nash from Panash Adventures. We caught up with Angie to find out more about her love of foraging and what she has in store for us ..
Hi Angie, what first sparked your interested in foraging & how has your it changed your lifestyle?
I remember a boy when I was at primary school who used to munch on flower heads and as a result was bullied by a lot of the other kids for being ‘weird’. I always found him really interesting though and used to watch him to see what he would eat next. Thinking back, I probably freaked him out by sitting and staring at him!
My interest really peaked though about eight years ago when I met a wonderful woman, Carol Hunt from Edible Wild. We were on a bushcraft event together and she said she was going off to get some lunch. I asked if I could go with her and she started walking down the lane. The nearest shops were miles away so I offered to drive but she said “no need” and started gathering various plants from the hedgerow. Her knowledge of plants is incredible and the woman is like a walking encyclopaedia – it’s like having our primitive ancestors on speed dial walking with her and she can answer all of my questions on the plants uses.
I started out by just adding certain plants to salads but as my knowledge of all of their uses has increased, and my connection with the plant world has grown stronger, I do try to gather wild plants more regularly and be more experimental with my cooking or use them to treat ailments naturally. They are packed full of nutrients and medicinal uses and harvesting wild food sustainably can help them grow stronger.
What are you favourite foraged finds & are there any common mis-haps, so that we know what to avoid?
I LOVE FUNGI!!! I was lucky enough to spend a summer living in the woods in Maine, USA last year and I spent my time trying to get to grips with identifying them. I found some of the best edible ones, morels, chanterelles, chicken of the woods, black trumpets and more and by the end of the summer there were several edible ones that I could identify for certain without guide books. Accurate identification of fungi is so important as there are 1000’s out there, including fatally poisonous ones that do look so inviting. Being able to finally identify so many that I knew for sure I could harvest and eat, was a real highlight in my foraging journey.
In terms of mis-haps, one thing that I’m seeing more frequently is people seeing a plant or mushroom they think they know, or posting a photo on Facebook and saying ‘is this edible?’ and an enthusiastic but inexperienced person responds saying ‘yes, it’s X, Y or Z, eat it’….and it’s rarely what the person thought it was and is often a similar looking but poisonous species.
The biggest mis-hap you can make though is being too scared or too overwhelmed to even begin. If you want to go forage, and I encourage everyone to explore it, then go with an experienced guide a few times first, get some good guide books and check your plant against lots of different guide books and really look at all features of what it is you’re hoping to eat, i.e. check the leaves, the flowers, has it got hairs on the stem or not, what habitat is it growing in etc.
A mistake I make too often is seeing certain plants growing and thinking I’ll get around to gathering some, but by the time I get off my bum, the season has passed and they’ve all gone. Acorns (make wonderful flour for bread) and Hawthorn berries (for sauces and syrups) are out there now so grab them why you can!
Magic Seaweed! We’re looking forward to our beach foraging session with you soon! What are some of the benefits/uses of seaweeds that we find on our UK shores?
Ah seaweeds. They are incredible and my new favourite food source. They are packed full of nutrients and is one of the few natural food sources of iodine (that I know of) which is great for helping the thyroid which helps to regulate hormones. For our fellow Surf Sistas, seaweeds can help regulate oestrogen levels which can help reduce PMS and improve fertility issues. Studies have also shown they are a good source of antioxidants and can help prevent a host of ailments such as arthritis, celiac disease, asthma, depression, and obesity. They can also help with increasing the good bacteria in the gut which in turn can reduce wind. Bonus.
They can be used in spa treatments (as simple as throwing some in the bath with you), as natural sun blocks, as gels for skin conditions such as eczema and there are a lot more uses. Definitely one for newbies to look into and remember to harvest sustainably – usually this mean leaving at least a third of the plant attached to the rock. If you want to know more then come join us for a walk!
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