7 Amazing Benefits of Foraging for Wild Foods
Updated: Sep 3
From time immemorial, humans used to pick and consume wild plants, seeds, nuts, mushrooms and herbs straight from nature. Agriculture as we know it started relatively late, around 11,000 years ago. Even though Italians are used to shopping for their veggies today, foraging for wild food is still a prevalent practice in Italian culture.
Wild foods are being used for everything from traditional medicines to homemade herbal liquers and mouthwatering side dishes of wild asparagus, spinach, or mushrooms.
Although foraging for food isn’t essential today, the possibility to gather our own food in the wild is an opportunity to revisit our roots. Not sure if wild foods could be your thing?
Read these 7 benefits of foraging for food!
1. Wild Food is Beneficial To Your Health
It’s been proven that wild foods contain more nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants or healing properties than foods coming from commercial agriculture. Because they have never been chemically treated and are allowed to fully ripen before being harvested, wild foods keep their natural power and stay nutrient-dense. In addition to all of those added benefits of wild foods, spending time gathering them outdoors allows you to spend time in nature which has been proven to reduce stress and boost your immune system!
2. Foraged Food Tastes Like Heaven
Have you ever tasted a freshly-picked wild strawberry? As much as we love regular ol’ store bought strawberries, those that grow wild have such a unique taste. This applies to almost all wild foods – try them and your taste buds will start dancing with pleasure!
Artichokes growing in the southern Italian region of Puglia
3. Wild Food is 100% Fresh & Organic
Even the freshest food from your local market is not as fresh as the wild blueberry you’ve just picked with your own hand. And it’s organic too! No artificial fertilizers nor harmful pesticides or insecticides are being used in the forests and meadows. (Just be careful when you’re picking herbs and plants near fields, where traces of these chemicals from agricultural production may remain).
4. You Help to Save the Environment
As you pick your wild foods, keep in mind that no trucks, planes, or trains were needed to deliver the food to your local store to end up on your plate. Wild, foraged food is as local as it can get. Can you imagine how much emissions you’ll save in your lifetime if you switch some of your store-bought foods to forage for them instead? More fun, too!
5. You Get to Experiment With Your Food
Have you ever tried daisy petals in your salad? Or made a nettle pesto? Or a chickpea cream? Your diet will experience a boost in creativity with a variety of new ingredients. Many wild foods can’t even be found in stores, giving you a great excuse to revive grandma’s old recipes with all the nearly-forgotten ingredients. Or come up with new combinations or whole new recipes! The only limit is your imagination.
6. You Will Experience Independence and Appreciation
Though we sometimes forget to appreciate this, it truly is a luxury to walk into a store and buy whatever comes to our minds. We don‘t see the hard work behind the shelves bursting with huge amounts of food waiting to be bought. When you try foraging, you’ll have the unique experience of finding food on your own without relying on somebody else’s production. And you’ll deeply appreciate the time and dirty work that it takes to bring the food to our tables. Quite an enlightenment!
7. Foraging for Food Saves You Money
All the food you find while foraging is totally FREE! Not only do you get all these health and other great benefits of wild foods, but you also don’t have to spend a coin on it either. While organic food may be quite expensive at stores, you don’t have to pay for anything when you forage your own food.
Going foraging? Be prepared!
Are you inspired to try picking your own wild food now? Of course, it’s important that you correctly identify plants when foraging for food. Mushrooms are notoriously easy to mistake as there are poisonous versions that often look similar to the safe versions. Arm yourself with a quality guidebook made for the exact area you live in or find a local person who specializes in native plants of your area to come to your property and show you what’s already growing and edible on your land!
Never eat anything you aren’t 110% sure you’ve correctly identified and always get a second opinion.
Next, we’ll be diving into some of the native wild plants and mushrooms that Italians cook with and you’ll get to try out some of their traditional and authentic recipes using foraged foods. Stay tuned!
Tired of drooling over authentic Italian food and ready to just get there to taste it yourself already? Book a free Exploration Call to discuss ways we can help!
Disclaimer: It’s important that you correctly identify plants when foraging for food. Mushrooms are notoriously easy to mistake as there are poisonous versions that often look similar to the safe versions. Arm yourself with a quality guidebook made for the exact area you live in or find a local person who specializes in native plants of your area to come to your property and show you what’s already growing and edible on your land! Never eat anything you aren’t 110% sure you’ve correctly identified and always get a second, professional opinion.
This is an informational article only and should not be used to identify wild plants. Creative Edge Travel is not responsible for your resulting health after consuming wild plants and food.
Creative Edge Travel offers small group and custom trips to the lesser-known areas of Italy. Visit our Upcoming Trips page to see where we’re headed next!