Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The economics of urban foraging

I'm doing a show-and-tell about foraging for the next Wellington WAPF meeting. Then a few weeks later I'm going to lead weed walks during a Farm Day at our CSA.

Both organisations are keen to focus on the 'free food' aspect of foraging. And yet - I'm not sure if many of us in urban areas could manage to save more than a few dollars a week out of our food budget by foraging. (Although of course in tough times, even a few dollars are vital.)

Maybe even more to the point, I'm thinking that if lots of people in urban areas started foraging for any economically significant quantity of food, then supplies would rapidly deplete.

Still - I do think there are important economic benefits to foraging. The main one is that it keeps you out of other more expensive and consumerist mischief.

Although foraging is a bit of free food, it's better than that. It's a free hobby. It's as solitary or as social as you want to make it. It's educational. It gets you out of the house. It's family friendly. It can be challenging, or meditatively relaxing, or both.

Such endlessly absorbing free activities are in short supply in the city, and frankly I think it helps me save more out of my entertainment budget than anything else.

8 comments:

Sharonnz said...

Hope to meet you at the CSA weekend if not before;-)

Ruth said...

Is it possible to *hire* you and bring you down here to forage and find what is in our local environment??

Johanna Knox said...

Sharon - yippee - a deadline for meeting you! :)

Ruth - haha - oh if only! If someone would 'hire' me to come to the south island it would be a dream come true. :) I've always wanted to spend some decent time in the parts of the south that are not Christchurch. (Altho I like Christchurch too!) But we do serously hope to make it down on our own steam *sometime*! (Although it may be too late for your wedding ...)

Gillybean said...

Hello, I've recently found your blog and am enjoying it. I'm also a forager after spending my younger days in a house bus it's in my blood. Foraging should come with a road saftey warning though as my head swings round when I see a wild peach, walnut, apple or Elder on the side of the road, even dry pinecones suck me in sometimes, my secret favorite is an inner city pinenut. I have plans to extend my foraging into planting fruit trees in public places as I see so much council land going to waste.

Johanna Knox said...

Gillybean - thanks for your comment! Please tell me what an inner city pine nut is! :)

Mariella said...

Is there much Puha in the council gardens or the botantical gardens in Wellington?
I'm moving down there next month.

Johanna Knox said...

Hi Mariella - a lot of puha to be found in parks and reserves around Wgtn. (Maybe not so much in the Botanical Gardens).

Exciting that you are shifting. One day if you're able to, or would like to, I'd love you to show me water cress, where to find it, and what you like to do with it.

zoe / puku said...

interesting - I tend to forage - or "scrump" as we say - mostly when I am in the country (on holidays) where we go crazy loading up with roadside/pathside fruit, berries, fennel.. other than the rare mulberry or loquat overhanging a fence, I haven't found much in Sydney. I will have to make more of an effort to look, because as you say, it is as much the interest/hobby factor, and edible things are often hiding away in unnoticed places!