Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The search for the perfect foraging bag(s)

I've found them!

You see, I've thought about foraging bags a lot over the last little while. What makes an ideal foraging bag? Where can I get one? Or should I make one myself?

Until just the other day, I'd mulled over four options (and used two of them):

Option 1: A wide wicker basket

* It's traditional, and makes you feel all bucolic.
* It's great for keeping your wild finds intact and un-squashed.


* I'm darned if I want to lug one around with me everywhere.

Option 2: Old plastic bags
* They're waterproof.
* They're light and super-compact. You can take several with you, and keep the different plants you find separate from each other - very helpful.

* When I start finding uses for old plastic bags, then I start to think of old plastic bags as useful. And as soon as I start to think of them as useful, I start trying to collect more of them. And then I'm contributing to plastic bag proliferation - which I don't want to do.
* They're weak and don't stand up to prickles.

Option 3: Reuseable shopping bags

* They're a sustainable option.
* They're strong.
* They're more compact than a basket.

* They're not compact enough. Because I like to take several, and because they're bigger than they need to be for foraging, it gets bulky.
* They get full of soil and pebbles and twigs, and I feel I have to wash them before I use them for shopping again.

Option 4: Making my own foraging bag
* I would be exactly the bag I want. It would be extremely lightweight but very strong. It would contain smaller bags within a bigger bag. There would be at least one bag in there made of very light waterproof material for wet or muddy stuff.

Excuses - er, I mean Cons

* I don't much like sewing.
* I'm not very good at sewing.
* My sister has the sewing machine at the moment.

So anyhow
, I was thinking I would just keep on making do with the re-useable shopping bag option, when I went into Moore Wilson Fresh and, lo and behold, I saw this:
And it opens out into this:

These re-useable fabric bags are designed to hold your fruit and veges for supermarket weighing. And all the things that make them good for that, also make them good for collecting edibles from the supermarket of the wild.

They're strong.
They're lightweight.
They're sustainable.
They're just the right size.
They can be rolled up compactly.
There are lots of them for keeping things separate.
They breathe.
You can even wash your plants while they're still in the bag!

Okay - they are not different sizes, and there isn't a water proof one, but I can live with that. (And maybe take along just one reusable shopping bag as well.)

Called the Onya Weigh, this set of bags is made in Australia and costs about $14.00 here in NZ.

I did hesitate before buying it, as I thought about how one of the reasons for foraging is to escape consumerism. But then I thought - this is the only thing I have ever purchased for foraging, and hopefully will be the only thing I ever do.

So I bought it. $14 well spent I think. And now I have, if not the perfect foraging bag, at least something pretty close.

P.S. Thanks to Joshua Vial for letting me use his pic of a New World bag caught in a local tree. Drop in and visit his No Plastic Bags campaign.

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