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sean

Wild food businesses...

Interesting article in The Indie today.

Anyone fancy inviting them to join downsizer?
cab

Well worth it, especially the chap at Caledonian who seems like a really sound bloke to me. Haven't the time to look into contacting them today though; anyone up for it?
gil

I would, but a bit pushed still. Especially if I were going to write the dissertation on wild-harvesting.
Treacodactyl

I wouldn't call wild food organic unless you know what's been happening in the surrounding area, if anything they could be worse than non-organically farmed food. A mushroom might be growing in grass that's just been sprayed for example.

I'd like to know where the wild foods are picked from and if the pickers have full permission from the land owners in question.
gil

Saw a Scottish Exec report on wild foods up here, mentioning the Caledonian bunch - sounded pretty formalised re landowners, and well-organised. Highland areas generally wild or low-input farming (tho not always, obviously).

We'd need to check out the others as well
wildfoodie

I'm concerned that the businesses who add value to wild foods by selling them will attract unscrupulous collectors, who trespass, piss off land owners, and pick without due consideration for wildlife, and so might cause the nanny state minders to pass some piss poorly thought out legislation that will stop/make it difficult for the rest of us to do what we've done for ages. Not saying these eco businesses aren't a good idea, but I do hope they consider the wider impact of their activities. but it is great that the scrummy subject of wild food is being highlighted.
cab

wildfoodie wrote:
I'm concerned that the businesses who add value to wild foods by selling them will attract unscrupulous collectors, who trespass, piss off land owners, and pick without due consideration for wildlife, and so might cause the nanny state minders to pass some piss poorly thought out legislation that will stop/make it difficult for the rest of us to do what we've done for ages. Not saying these eco businesses aren't a good idea, but I do hope they consider the wider impact of their activities. but it is great that the scrummy subject of wild food is being highlighted.


I agree with all of that. I wouldn't reccomend Caledonian unless I'd talked to the bloke, who seems completely genuine on this subject, and who understands that his lievelihood depends on getting this issue right. I rekon he agrees with what you've said too.

That said its a good while since I talked to him.
PeteS

For me this is an interesting topic.

I have nothing against small businesses, individuals etc making a bit of money from the selling of wild foods. In fact as long as they are doing it in a considerate manner I am all for it. After all it can get the message of wild foods to a greater audience.

Some of the larger businesses import from abroad (I believe that Caledonian do but I might be mistaken). Now this might be done using considerate collectors but how do you know if the collectors abroad aren't a bunch of unscrupulous individuals? It is easy to check if you are using local pickers but people that are 100's maybe 1000's of miles away in another country must be harder to manage. And anyway would you want to buy 1KG of mushrooms that had been transported, maybe by air, for over 1000 miles? I wouldn't.

How big can you go before it all gets a bit silly? An example of what could happen can be seen here...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/core/Content/displayPrintable.jhtml?xml=/portal/2007/05/05/nosplit/ftwkfront105.xml&site=4&page=0

I know that this superstore chain isn't selling wild food (or is it?) but would you want to go this big? It all sounds like a bit of a con too.
gil

PeteS
I have enough trouble thinking about using local labour to wildharvest unsupervised, so at the mo I do it all myself. Even if I train pickers, will they do what they have been told ? Never mind the idea of importing, which is quite common practice for fruit-based (not necessarily wild) businesses.

Other solution adopted by some 'wild food' businesses is to cultivate wild stuff on their own land. e.g. Cairn O'Mohr have planted an elder orchard to supply their increasing need for flowers and berries. I've started doing similar with other plants.
wildfoodie

thanks for that Pete, very interesting and somewhat inevitable I fear.. tho anyone browsing cartons of "classic mashed potatoes" deserves to be well and truly fleeced. Puhlease
Which, having some 13 years experience of the shark infested food industry waters, is what I#'m sure whole foods market undoubtably will be doing.
PeteS

What do people in other countries do? When I was in Austria I noticed that the hotel was serving a salad that included wild garlic. I asked the guy that ran the hotel if he’d picked it himself. He replied with something like: ‘no, we by it from Spar’. I have also seen wild garlic pesto on sale in almost every food shop in Austria and Germany. I assume that this ‘wild garlic’ is cultivated. The same hotel also had wild mushrooms on the menu. However, the hotel staff had actually picked these. The hotel manager wasn’t some wild food fan, just an average Austrian. I do think that many people in the UK have an odd attitude towards food and have a hard time coping with the idea of the wild stuff
gil

You can buy 'wild' garlic seeds quite easily in Germany. 'Shrooming is much more common, as is hunting game. Different patterns of land ownership, perhaps, whereas here it would be trespass or poaching ?
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