It takes a lot to change people’s eating habits. When I was in charge of Waitrose I commissioned research that concluded that the average number of products eaten by customers was 250, in spite of the fact that we sold around 20,000 food lines, and launched thousands of new ones each year.
One of our most primal instincts is to eat food that we know to be safe. It’s why we tend to put the same items in our shopping basket at the supermarket, use the same pubs and restaurants and pick the same things on the menu. It’s also why recommendations, like those given here in The Good Pub Guide , are so important to us. I therefore suspect you either have to be naturally courageous or need a good shove to try the new trend to ear foraged food. Globally, the year 2000 marked the point when more people lived in cities than in the countryside. Of course, it happened much sooner than that in the UK. With that move comes a disconnection for many people with where their food comes from and how it’s produced.
I remember as a child in 1960s foraging on family picnics for berries, fruits, flowers, nettles and mushrooms to take home to brew or cook with. I remember back then, and I still believe it now, that things seem to taste better if you pick them yourself, or consume locally.
When I moved to Dorset a number of years ago, I decided to reawaken my inner forager. I went on a seashore forage in Studland Bay run by Force Adventure and another with the River Cottage cookery school hunting for mushrooms. You can find details for both online, and many more similar courses are shooting up across the country. For me, one of the greatest dishes is wild mushrooms on toast- especially if you’ve picked the mushrooms yourself.
Mark Price’s wild mushrooms on toast
1. Grill the wild mushrooms you’ve collected along with several rashers of streak bacon.
2. Once the bacon is crispy, remove from the grill and cut into small pieces.
3. Place the mushrooms and bacon on a freshly toasted and buttered slice of granary bread.
4. Crumble cheshire cheese on top.
5. Heat under the grill for a minute
And here’s a handy tool to identify your edible from your poisonous! Wildfooduk.com
By Mark Price
Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash