Richard Mabey “Food for Free”

ISBN 978-0-00-718303-6. “Food for Free” by Richard Mabey and published by Collins in 2004. This is the condensed “Gem” edition of a book first compiled by Richard as far back as 1972 and revised several times since. If you ever seen a book like this then you will probably know the problem with this kind of thing. Eating from the wild is a minority hobby. It will not sustain a civilisation. Put that out of your mind. It also sounds as if those who treat this as a hobby may need to get in their 4×4 SUV and drive out into the Countryside to find the clean and unpolluted foodstuffs-for-free. I would guess that makes the carbon footprint unsustainably high. It seems that, as long as you have plenty of butter to smother over your boiled weeds then it will be edible. I might also add that mayonnaise, ketchup, salad cream or Branston Pickle would probalbly do as well – you could probably make dry-wall edible with these! So what can you learn from something like this? Well, our peoples have survived for millions of years on stuff that just grows naturally. However we since domesticated then industrialised our food chain until a point where none of us even know where our food comes from. Even those of us with a basic familiarity with gardening see only garden varieties. Work like this puts us back into contact with a simpler and cruder way of existence. The way of the hunter-gatherer. It has almost all the practical worth of dead insects under museum glass. But don’t let that put you off. This remains a treasure-trove of ancient wisdom – from old recipes to how to spot a deadly mushroom. It is all here and in a size that slips right into the palm of your hand. If you are a gardener and permaculturist you may find that work like this helps you to understand what is, and is not, a “weed”. If something insists on growing then maybe it should be allowed to grow. And if it is an edible plant then who is to say that nature is not trying to tell you a little something? What would probably be of more use for everyone is a book that combines this wisdom with a “how to” on seed preservation. When disaster strikes we may need to return to our hedgerows to realise the genetic potential in those heirloom seeds. After this book you’ll look at the natural things around you in a different way. Less of a carpet of green stuff to be somehow “over-come” but more of buffet. One for the foodist only but give it as a gift for its novelty value. An eye-opener.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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