A Foray into a Foraged Diet

It is a long-term goal of mine to spend a year living off the land eating only foraged food. As part of my preparation for this eventuality, I spend the occasional day eating just foraged food.

This May, I spent six days at a family camp in Somerset and decided to use this time to go deeper into a foraged diet. I took with me some stores of foods I had gathered in the preceding months, to supplement what I could find locally. The middle day of the experiment however, I planned to eat only what was available to gather. The venison came from a local stalker, which I skinned and butchered at home. The only other concession I made to bought food, was a pot of salt. An additional treat was a small pot of honey from our own bees.

The following is the journal I kept while at the camp. I do not go into details of how the foods were prepared, as this would make an extremely long blog! Each entry consists of an overview of the meals, my daily foraging activities, plus reflections. I hope you find this informative.

Monday (arrived at the camp mid-morning)

• Venison backstrap flash ‘fried’ (no oil), with heated acorn grits (previously leached of tannin). Nettle and elderflower tea.
Extremely tasty as I was hungry! Went on a walk to gather additions for supper.

• Venison wrapped in burdock leaves and steamed in embers, with acorn grits and mixed greens (nettle, cleaver tips, hogweed flower buds, hogweed seeds and salt).
Tasty for 20 minutes. Took a long time to eat (chewing acorns) and began to get bored of it when about a third left to eat. Needed to reheat as so slow. Full belly through evening.I went to bed not hungry but slightly low mood/energy, perhaps due to lack of sugar/sugar withdrawal. Put sweet chestnuts into soak for Tuesday supper.


• Acorn grits, crushed chestnut and dried currants boiled for half an hour.
Tasty. No need for honey. Ate in two sittings.
Prepped chestnuts for dinner (removing skins) and began simmering burdock root in venison bone broth. Prepared hazelnuts. Skinning chestnuts in the sun was a nice, relaxing activity. I was thinking of where/when/with whom I had collected the chestnuts… I feel a growing sense of connection with my food.

Cracking hazelnuts and trying not to eat them as I go
Photo: Nicola Strange

• Roast hazelnuts and dried crab-apple.

• Burdock root and chestnuts stewed in bone broth, flavoured with hogweed seed, ground ivy and salt.
Burdock roots and chestnuts had burnt in pan while distracted by big group game at the camp. Salvaged 3/4s but tainted by burnt flavour. Still tasty though. I ate half and felt satisfied, feeling less need to be ‘stuffed’ after a meal. Ate rest at bedtime, slightly unsettled belly at times today- maybe as not use to this diet?

Wednesday (No stored foods ate today- only what I could gather)

Morning- gathered hogweed shoots and collected and cleaned cattail rhizomes, shoots and stems.
Food came in dribs and drabs through day (rather than the usual mealtimes).

• Cattail rhizomes roasted on embers
Very messy to eat! Smaller ones had very little to eat inside. Bigger ones delicious but still not much in tummy.

Cattail rhizomes roasted on embers…
I presume my mouth looked as messy as my fingers!
Photo: Nicola Strange

• Boiled cattail stems
Mild flavour. Slightly woody.
2.30pm, food so far has not touched the sides.
• Hogweed stems and nettles steamed with salt and hogweed seeds
Tummy happier! Fairly bitter tasting meal but edible.

Slowly filling the stomach with cattail shoots
Photos: Nicola Strange
and steamed greens
Photos: Nicola Strange

I am coming to sense that eating foraged food may become a lifestyle, where the gathering and preparation of food takes a greater part of the day than many modern-day diets. Also, nibbling at foods like cattail rhizomes makes eating a process, almost continual, rather than an event such as ‘lunch’.

By late afternoon- feel hungry and slightly light-head, but happy with that. Don’t feel particularly attracted to the non-foraged food in the tent (available for my son to eat).

Evening meal
• Stewed burdock root, burdock leaf shoots, nettles, cleaver tips, young cattail rhizomes, with ground ivy, salt, plantain flower heads and hedge woundwort for flavouring. Plus, cattail rhizomes roasted in pan (much less messy to eat!)
Went to bed satisfied with stew remaining for tomorrow.

A cleaner experience- cattail rhizomes roasted in a pan
Photo: Nicola Strange


• Acorn mush with currants and honey.
Through morning- cracked and roasted hazelnuts, cracked and soaked chestnuts. Recruited family members around the fire to crack nuts. This slower lifestyle, preparing food through the day, feels good when there are other people around to chat with.

• Roast hazelnuts and dry crab-apple.

• Finished yesterday’s stew and a couple of cattail rhizomes
Slightly hungry through the day, but mainly able to be okay with that. Get a bit confused and hangry at times. Skinned chestnuts- very fiddly… or maybe less patient as doing when very hungry!

A bouquet of wonderful plants to enjoy
Photo: Nicola Strange

• Stewed venison, chestnuts and jelly ears in bone broth, with ramsons and cleaver tips, flavoured with mugwort, hogweed seeds and salt.


As day 5 begins, my body feels well. I have only gained nutrients from what I have gathered (except the venison). This makes me feel connected with the birds I can hear, the trees I can see and the air in my face. I can feel how my sustenance is part of this joyful web of life. I also feel a growth in confidence in my ability to feed myself and trust in what is available/provided around me by the plants. It would be even more interesting if I were procuring wild meat myself, and so develop deeper connections to other living animals. Now off for a run and thinking about breakfast!

• Berries and acorn mash and honey
Ate in two portions as satisfied with very little (small stomach?)

Late lunch
• Leftovers from last night’s dinner
Set roe dee foreleg boiling at noon.

• Roe foreleg stewed with chestnuts and ransoms, flavoured with hedge woundwort, ground ivy and salt.
WONDERFUL! Dish very pleasant with plenty leftover. Celebrated the end of my last meal and closed my forage with a glass of mead, made from our own honey.

Saturday (Packing up and going home)

Very weird to eat toast and packaged food this morning. I feel I have been eating real food and now return to something strange and foreign. I feel extremely grateful that there is food growing around me, which I can sustain my body with. I also know that without the stores of food I had foraged beforehand, I would have been much hungrier and much busier in preparing foods. Of course, storing foods was likely the habit of many hunter-gatherers, but it would be good to increase my ability to feed myself for times without stores.

In addition to the stores of food I took to the camp, I also benefitted from some fat reserves on my tummy! I used half a stone of this during the 6 days.

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