Definition of "Foraging"

Jane Colletti real estate agent
Jane Colletti, Real Estate Agent Legacy Realty Properties

The term foraging comes from the old germanic language, which passed through Old French “fuerre” and “fourrage” and it means the search for wild food resources. Foraging plays an important role in the animal kingdom as the health of each animal is affected by its ability to find food in the environment surrounding them. For humans, foraging became a common function of life during the hunter/gatherer times, but in modern times, the topic was only tackled in the 1960s and 1970s by behavioral ecologists.

In the animal world, it has been demonstrated that foraging is the basis for the migration patterns of many species. It may have been similar for the hunter/gatherer tribes, as the seasonal changes could have affected the growth of edible plants. In the modern age, however, foraging is more of a hobby or skill for people who want to become less dependent on global food chains or simply want to become more self-sufficient at putting something on the table.

What is Foraging?

Through foraging, we understand the process of going out into the natural world in search of edible plants, fruits, mushrooms, or other types of food or medicinal plants. People either organize long camping trips to forage food for themselves or their household, simply find themselves in the wilderness and start picking edible berries, or learn foraging as a survival skill. Doomsday preppers are more often than not aware of foraging techniques as through foraging, one can ensure the necessary food for sustenance in case of emergency. Foraging is also a great skill to have in case you ever find yourself stranded in nature. 

Foraging knowledge can be the difference between life and death. When it comes to the natural world, not everything that grows and crawls on the ground is edible. While there are plants, fruits, and mushrooms that provide the necessary nutrients for a healthy diet, there are at least as many that can kill or severely harm the human body. Knowing how to distinguish one from the other is what foraging is all about.


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Why is Foraging Useful?

Here, we’ll cover a few situations in which foraging can help. 

If you end up in the middle of a forest with nothing to eat or drink, the first thing you have to do is find water seeing as the human body can only last 3 days without water. Still, if you are stranded for a longer period than that and want to also eat while you try to make your way out, finding food is essential. While the body can survive without food for 30 days, it functions better when not starving. In that situation, knowing which plants, mushrooms, or fruits can be eaten and which you’d better stay away from is incredibly important. 

If you want to eat healthier, organic food that is free of chemicals, toxins, or added supplements, it might be expensive to purchase bio or organic food. Still, if you know what plants can be eaten, you can start picking from any natural environment that permits you to. Meaning that you should also know if you are allowed to forage in the area.

Similarly, if you want to be prepared in case the world economic system collapses and want to ensure you’ll have access to food even when grocery stores and farmer’s markets are closed, learning about foraging can save you. You’ll know to use dandelions for tea. You’ll know that onions and garlic also have their wild counterparts that can be eaten. In other words, the whole environment will become your grocery store, free of charge but labor intensive.

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