…( actually it’s just 5 and there’s one with me in ).
The more time I devote ( waste, give, spend…you decide) to the wonderful world of foraging, the more diverse the directions it leads me off in. Foraging is such an amazing mix of so many topics; wild food, herbal medicine, gastronomy, survival, nutrition, botany, history, sociology, ecology, sustainability and on and on. Just like hunting for wild food, often the best place for research, is to be on the border, the meeting of different environments always creating the most fertile ground and the exact same philosophy applies perfectly to my studies. If I wander too deep into the woods I may find the best fungi but I’ll loose sight of so many other possible foods…spend too much time on one topic and I neglect all the other tempting and fascinating subjects. I will never, without any doubt, be an expert, I’m too much of an enthusiast, but this scatter gun approach, does lead me to some fascinating places, both physically and mentally. Fortunately for people like me, there are some real experts in the world, not the majority of people just claiming to be, but the ones who really know their subject inside out or who have a skill so specific that only a lifetime of endeavour could have created it. Below are some short films, ranging from fascinating lectures to stories of survival and self sufficiency. Slightly embarrassingly I have also added a quick film featuring me, it really doesn’t belong in such esteemed company but I hope you enjoy watching them all.
1. Harvesting Birch Syrup in the Alaskan winter. Such an inspiring story of living with nature and creating a sustainable existence within it. A friend brought me back a huge bag of their Birch Brittle candy and I give it out on my walks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWaSLeLpDyo
2. How food shapes our cities. A lecture by Carolyn Steel. A brilliant and thought provoking short lecture. Carolyn discusses how food has shaped the way we live and the relationship between cities and monoculture, talking not only about the problems we face as an ever increasing population but looking at some positive possibilities for the future. https://www.ted.com/talks/carolyn_steel_how_food_shapes_our_cities#t-198290
3. Tree top honey gathering in the African Congo. In this short BBC film, Tete climbs up a 40 metre tree using just a vine and some incredible skills and nerve for projection. He is stung by an angry swarm of bees before reaching the prized honey. Nothing could be in greater contrast to the foraging events that I run here in London. An amazing little film of a man risking his life to bring his family the sweet stuff. https://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/humanplanetexplorer/survival_skills/foraging#p00dlvl4
4. Six ways to save the planet using mushrooms. If you only get time to watch one of these films, then please make sure it’s this one. Paul Stamets discusses a few of the ideas from his astonishing book Mycelium Running and looks at fungi based solutions to things as diverse as regenerating sites damaged by toxic waste through to mushroom based cancer treatments. Truly inspiring stuff. https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world#t-118523
5. Thomas Elpel explains his terrific book Botany in a Day. Foraging and botany can be reluctant bedfellows; foragers want to be out in the woods or fields not stuck in the library or crouched over a microscope. To the rescue comes Thomas and his terrific book in which he not only demystifies and dismantles the dark arts of botany, but puts them all back together again in two easy to digest ways, a great book and a card game for kids. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBY44CkQbVc
6. Last and by all means least…….me. Last year I made a short film for The Discovery Channel. Basically they followed me round my local park while I jabbered nervously at the two hosts and the camera. Thanks to my friends Adam and Tree for editing my protracted waffling into something more concise. https://vimeo.com/97246901