Our foraging experience is built on traditional knowledge that has been passed on to us by our grandparents and parents in Eastern Europe.
We have been delving into the Irish landscape and green surroundings for the past month, in our mission to learn more about collaborating with nature for a better life.
So far, we have been living in an area South of Bray where we are amazed, every day, to pass by inumerable bushes of blackberries and hazelnut trees.
As a child, Adela used to have long walks with her mother in the countryside of Transylvania where, each August and September, they would find tens of kilograms of wild blackberries growing in a former quarry. Blackberries love the heat of the sun, even more so when it is enhanced by the heat storage properties of rocks. For a few weeks in a row, mother and daughter would go everyday to the quarry and handpick blackberries to latter turn into delicious home made syrup. Blackberries are also wonderful for making jam, and are amazing for breakfast, if you blend them with yogurt or milk into a wonderful smoothie. It is amazing to see how these readily available edibles, such as blackberries, have lately been replaced by hip and trendy exotic fruits imported from miles and miles away, from the other side of the Earth.
The daily contact with the blackberry bushes here in Ireland have elicited a few thoughts on our general attitude towards food, that we’d love to share with you.
First, taking our time to pick a handful of blackberries helps us downshift the speed at which we travel every day. Why rush? Why worry? It was heartwarming for us to understand that interacting with these lively bushes moulded our emotions into more considerate and careful attitudes toward the rhythm of our days.
Second, we realized, once more, that nature is thriving, abundent and truly altruistic in the way it shares with us. Nature, with all its edibles that we can grow or forage for, can help us engage in parallel – not to call them different – economic relations. It is kind and thoughtful to give or to share a jar of home made blackberry jam with your friend, instead of rushing to the supermarket to purchase a jar of industrially produced blackberry jam. In the later situation, who is it that you engage with? How meaningful is that engagement?
Third, through foraging, we can understand the extent of our needs and degrow. Our consumption habits are deeply rooted and realising that a bottle of pharmaceutically produced vitamins can be easily replaced by a handful of foraged fruits is an intimate revolution. We rarely relate to marketing slogans such as eat fresh, eat healthy, especially when we read these slogans on supermarket windows or on plastic bags that contain apples from New Zealand, but when you re-frame these slogans in the natural setting of the foot of a hill, consumption habits receive a new, enlightened dimension.
It is, then, up to us to make our daily choices. Trekking on hills is much more thoughtful than you can imagine.
Just take your time, remember how your parents and grandparents used to be connected to nature. If you cannot remember because you never knew it first hand, teach yourself, learn about the altruistic wonders of nature and use this knowledge to question who you are and what you do. And, most importantly, why you do everything that you do.
And then eat a handful of freshly picked wild blackberries. They are good for you!
Adela and Dan from Romania
Casa de Cultura Permanenta