I’ve had two influential plant mentors in my life.
Chalk and cheese they were when it came to how they viewed the natural world.
Balance is good, right?
One was Frank Cook (now sadly deceased).
No, not from eating a plant!
The other is alive and kicking. His name is Marcus Harrison.
Outside the foraging inner circle, the chances are you have never heard of him.
I visited Marcus recently to catch up.
And we talked about a certain popular website that many go to for their information on wild edible plants.
And just in case you were thinking of asking me…
No I won’t tell you what it’s called.
The big question I was always asking myself when I first started out foraging was…
… Is the information I was reading reliable?
It’s a sensible question to have in the back of your mind.
“I stopped using it years ago,” Marcus said.
“Why,” I said.
“Too much bad data,” he said.
“Really,” I said.
I had been having my own doubts for some time.
They were finally confirmed when I spoke to one of the trustees of the site.
They had told me that it needed updating because of out of date or erroneous information.
So I continued…
“What’s your beef with it, chum?” I said
“Many of the references used are not prime sources. They’re secondary sources.” He said, echoing my own feelings.
I refer to Marcus as the UK’s foremost wild food historian.
He is, in reality, a grandmaster of foraging with over 30 years experience in the field.
So when I want practical, accurate, safety conscious advice. Marcus is one of the people I turn to.
And I’m not the only one.
It seems the Ministry of Defence trusts him too.
Let’s face it…
When it comes to protecting the troops. You don’t want some inexperienced person saying X plant is edible… when it isn’t.
What you want is concrete, reliable information that is safe to use.
Hence why I am cautious when it comes to listening to people when they start talking wild food.
And usually, I steer well clear of social media.
Too much misinformation.
And false news can be dangerous to your health.
Marcus and I have discussed these issues many times.
How best to encourage beginners and those new to foraging so they feel comfortable and safe in the wilds.
On my own courses, I teach that it is important to respect nature and her ways.
To not be afraid.
Like it or not. Nature has her rules.
She is a firm but loving teacher.
I am continually reminded of this whenever I visit a tropical rainforest.
Being blasé in the wild can at best put you in hospital, and at worst under the ground!
So don’t fear the wild, respect it.
That way you stay safe and develop a deep rich connection back to the earth (and yourself).
Find a teacher who has your best interests at heart.
Books don’t cut it, and social media certainly doesn’t cut it.
Click here to continue…