Finding Your Food

Play episode
a marketplace food stand

In recognition of “World Food Day”, Liz Waid and Colin Lowther look at foraging – searching for food growing wild. They look at the benefits, and some warnings, about this method.

Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Follow along with this program on YouTube
Voice 1  

Sergei Boutenko was 13 years old. His family decided to go on a long hike. They planned to walk for many days through forests and mountains. They would carry everything they needed. They planned everything well. But a few days into their hike, the family had no more food. However, they did have a book that identified which plants they could eat. They survived by eating plants they found. Boutenko explains in his book about finding food,

Voice 3  

“Wild food grew everywhere along the trail, so it soon became the main thing we ate. By the end, most of our diet was wild plants. All of the new plants we used in our meals were fresh and very good for our bodies. We were amazed how much we enjoyed the flavor of our food and always looked forward to the next meal. In short, discovering wild food let us successfully finish our hike.”

Voice 2  

This event started Boutenko’s love for finding food in nature. There are many people just like him in many parts of the world. They love to forage or search, for food. Foraging can save money, improve health, and change how people see the world. Today’s Spotlight is on foraging for food.

moose in a field of grass
Photo: Dana Critchlow
Voice 1  

For most of human history, people did not get their food from a store. There were no large factory farms that put food in boxes and cans. People ate the food they grew on their own land. They hunted wild animals. And many people want to return to this way of living.

Voice 2  

Foraging has become popular in recent years. People like Boutenko understand that there is food all around us. People have just forgotten how to see it. Brigit Anna McNeill teaches people how to forage. She also writes on her blog about foraging and how it connects people to the earth.

Voice 4  

“There is a lack of connection in our modern lives. It cannot be replaced with the latest iPhone, dress, bag, shoes or party. Many people live and work surrounded by concrete and steel. They eat processed foods. This limits contact with nature. Eating and gathering wild food brings me to nature. I know when I am eating more wild food, I feel more alive. I think of food as the greatest medicine and wild food is full of so much goodness that it heals me from the inside.”

Voice 1  

People who forage for food say there are many benefits to foraging. The first is that it can be very fun to do. Walking through nature is good for everyone. Children especially love to find plants they can eat. It can feel like hunting for treasure. It is a wonderful way for families to spend time together.

Voice 2  

Foraging can also save money. No matter where you live in the world, people spend a lot of money of food. Foraging can reduce the amount of money spent of food.

hand holding mushrooms
Photo: Nico Benedickt
Voice 1  

And eating wild food both tastes good and is good for you. It is healthy food. There are berries, fruits, mushrooms, seeds, ocean mussels, flowers, and spices and herbs that grow wild. And wild food grows everywhere. You can forage no matter where you live.

Voice 2  

Foraging can also change the way you see the world. When you can walk through a park or a forest and see food all around you, it changes you. People who forage are able to see that the world is not a frightening place. It is full of life. Everything we need to live has been provided for us.

Voice 1  

If you want to start foraging there are a few steps you should follow before you start eating what you find. First, find an experienced forager. Not all plants are edible. Some can make you very sick. An experienced forager will help you know which plants are safe to eat.  Many places around the world have foraging groups or clubs. People in these clubs forage together. They share knowledge and information about what plants are good to eat and what plants to avoid.

Voice 2  

Second, get a good guide book. A good guide book will identify all the edible plants where you live. It will have pictures of the plants. It will also tell you what parts of the plant you can eat. Plants have leaves, roots, stems, flowers and fruit. Just because you can eat one part does not mean you can eat all parts.

Voice 1  

Third, learn the common poisonous plants in your area before you begin to forage. This will help you feel more comfortable foraging. And before you eat any plant you find, you should know it is completely safe to eat. Never guess if a plant is safe or not.

Voice 2  

Fourth, use all of your senses to identify plants you find. Plants smell, feel, and look different from each other. Use all of these senses to identify a plant.

Voice 1  

Finally, foragers must remember a few simple rules for foraging. Robin Shreeves wrote about foraging in Finland for the website Mother Nature Network. She suggested a few general rules to follow when you forage.

Voice 5  

“For your own safety, know how to correctly identify edible plants. Many plants can be poisonous. If you are in an area that has been sprayed with chemicals, like a public park, the edge of a farm, or someone’s back yard – those wild plants could be covered with chemicals. Also, take only what you will use. Leave at least half, even if you could use more. Do not step on other plants to get to your desired food. And make sure you have permission to forage on the land. If you are on private property or publicly owned property such as a park or nature area, foraging may not be permitted. Finally, if a plant has damaged leaves, mold, dark spots or other signs of being unhealthy, do not eat from it.”

Voice 2  

Foraging can be fun, save money, and make you healthy. But some people do not like the idea of finding their own food. Do you think you would like to try foraging for food? Do you already forage for food? Tell us about your experiences. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at You can also comment on Facebook at

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from United States and The United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Finding Your Food’.

Voice 2  

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Do you ever gather your food from the wild? Would you ever try finding food this way? Write your answer in the comments below.

Join the discussion

  • I actually still can’t quite think I could often be one of
    those reading through the important tips found on this blog.

    My family and I are sincerely thankful for your generosity and for giving me the advantage to pursue my chosen profession path.
    Many thanks for the important information I got from your web-site.

  • I never gather food from the wild,but I wish that. Currently, I can’t do that because I live in an are doesn’t have forests and I don’t have experience about foraging. In the future I will be able to forage insha e allah

    • No i never try gather my food from the wild because i live in Qatar and it is a dessert country that you can’t found tree here only dessert that’s it why i can’t gather my food in the wild of my country but i think i would like to try doing it one day when i travel

  • I not gathering my food in the wild, I don’t have any places to do the gather and i don’t have any experience about it, my family always buy all our food for the store because there were have any time to do gather.
    Thank you

  • No, I didn’t,
    I have never tried,
    I’d like to try and have this experience in future,
    Thanks for writing and speaking with those beautiful voices,
    Thanks for your all team.

    • No,i never try it. Actually i didn’t know about forageing .But My mon want to do this
      She would like to try it one day.she really into planting .
      Thank a lot for knowing about forage

  • I think foraging is so exciting to do and it have benefis to our health
    actually i live in a country that does not have green enviromental so i cant do it.

  • Oh! Very nice to hear that foraging is becoming popular now a days. When I was child ,my group also foraged like at banana farm, on mango tree,fruits from many herbs and shrubs.We were very healthy and life loving during those days than today.

  • When i was a child, finding wild food was easy, because people in my hometown didn’t have much money the things we needed such as: meat, fish, vegetables, fruits…it was all grown by them, animals are fed with natural food. So all of these are fresh and safe to eat.

  • From:
    To: spotlight program
    Subject: to answer the questions below
    Date: Sunday, October 18, 2020
    Location: São Paulo city São Paulo Brazil South America

    Dear Liz Waid, Colin Lowther, Adam Navis, and Michio Ozaki

    First, I want to tell you that congratulations for bringing us more one great article. Thank you very much.
    Question 1 – Do you ever gather your food from the wild?
    Answer 1 – No, I do not.
    Question 2 – Would you ever try finding food this way?
    Answer 2 – No, I would not.
    God bless you
    Severino Ramos da Silva

  • I never ever gather my food from the wild, but during i listen to this spotlite i was very excited to try forage.
    thank you so much for this spotlit, which was very rich of knowlege and realy intersting.

  • as an integrated system of life i dont prefer to forage and search hardly for food , buying it from the market is much way easier and doesnt take too much time , but as a new experience , some fun , changing routines, camping or a trip for certain period , yes i like that ,its very fun

  • for me I never been used to foraging food through walking between forest and mountains , because i don’t know its edible to eat or not , but i thinks it could be fun to search for a good food on the along the trail !

  • It’s difficult cuz where I am living now there’s no forests so I don’t think before to becoming a foraging person but in the future when I moving to another country that have forest maybe I’d like to try becoming foraging person

  • I have never gathered food from the wild or even in our backyard. But, I think it’s an awesome experience if I would have to try it sometimes.

  • I haven’t ever tried to gather my food from the wild, I just tried to gather it from a privacy farmer. After I listened to this podcast I become excited to try finding food this way I think it’s so exciting and fun.

  • No, I don’t. I want to try it but I think we don’t have places in our country that provide foraging. If it is available for us I would like to try it of course.

  • Foraging may be interesting in some ways but sometimes it may dangerous and makes me scared. So, in the future, I still would like to try foraging to have experiences

  • I am always gather my food from the wild especially in winter and spring, when there are a lot of wild plants.
    I think wild plants are good for healthy ,moreover gather wild plants help families for money, fun, and healthy.

  • I think it’s very difficult to find wild food, also if it is safe for our health, but in our time we aren’t able to live in this way also for few days

  • I was born and raised in the countryside so when I was a child, I often gather my food from the wild. Actually, at that time, my family had a lot of poultry so I often foraged yellow snails for them. Yellow snail is also a human food. After it is processed, It is a great dish. I think foraging helps my family save money on food and I feel fun when I forage them.

  • I never gather my food in the wild. But I really want a chance to try finding food this way. I was born in a small city but I love farm so much and I like to plant fruit-trees. It would be more intersting delicous when you eat somethings you gather because Its fresh and safe.

  • When I was a child, during summer vacations, I went with my parents to the forest to pick mushrooms, and to small streams originating from the mountains to get water to drink. We also catch fish and mussels in the rivers along the mountains. Going deeper into the forest, we even found honeybee hives, I used smoke to drive the bees away, get their honey, and once I was stung by them. It’s great, it’s all very good experiences for me.

  • In the past, My family gathared wild vegetables in wild farm and fished at river for our food. Wild Vegetables and fishes are smaller and fresher than the products from agricultural. My father and my grand like them so much. But now, wild vegetables and fishes dissapear, my family use food from supermarket for all

  • I’ve tried foraging for food. My parents are famers since we grew up in the country. Work in the field or forest. And I recall going to the forest with them when I was little. We work all day, so for lunch, I help my mother collect leaves from a shrub near the stream to make soup. “Bep leaves” the claimed these leaves may be eaten and are excellent when cooked with noodles. I don’t know why can eat leaves and not damage health. We can eat because other people can. My family still eats these leaves and brings them home to eat later.

  • Unfortunately, I have never collected food from the wild, but I plan to do so in the future.
    I would like to try to collect food from my nature but I live in a city that makes it practically impossible, on the other hand, I could not collect food from nature since I do not know the plants that can be used as food. It would be impossible for me to do this activity.


  • Do you ever gather your food from the wild?
    No I have not done it before, but I want try on future
    Would you ever try finding food this way?
    I actually excited to try it after heard progarm

  • I just gather prickly pears it’s the only one I see in my country and it is many deserts. also, I love it.

  • I think I have never eaten the food of my search. I am afraid, that food can kill me and the taste can be terrible.

  • Eating wild plants can reduce the financial burden of organic foods while giving you many of the benefits such as rich in beta-carotene, Vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. However, you have to learn to identify the plant, and its edibility.

  • When I was children, I foraged food with my neighborhood. It was a great experience. Now I don’t do that anymore. Instead, I grow plants at home.

  • To be honest , the area where I live , there are many kinds of plants , but I never try to forage and eating from it
    But , I decided to try this , it sounds like good and fun experience
    Thanks spotlight

  • I never gather the food from the wild but i’d like to do it , i would to feel that… In a bio and simple life around the plants those i will consume … Thanks for this podcast

  • Hello,
    In my contry foraging is samething nature here so you don’t need permission to get your food from a park or a public garden or a forest it’s something comment i don’t do it always but just when i’m free.

  • Actually I don’t try it any wild food . Just i buy from supermarket .
    And of course I will try wild food in the future

  • I need to mention that i like to hike and all the wild life. I started to tent since i was 19 years old. it was very hard to assure my family with my wild discovery. My dad was always asking about food and how you will survive. Mentioned wild planets is a science and information about where i will go there is important to know what will be discovered and eaten. Imagine, if you tent 7 days in desert and the food is rotted, How you will survive without eating?

  • in Saudi Arabia we like to eat some wild .. we have a lot of Palms we can eat from them , and I think maybe I would like to try foraging but just for one time , i like easy life more .

  • i never try to gather food from the wild but when i listened to this audio i believe that i must go to foraging in the nature because i’m convinced thank to this audio it will be fun

  • i enjoyed listening to the program. wild food is very important for us but the negative part in wild food is that its very expensive and not all can buy organic wild food in the city. i want live an experience the foraging wild food .

  • No, I did n’t really I like the title and thanks a lot for you because you give me a lot information I do not think about it but in fact I think that it is not eassy foraging for food and like this need reading and tolerance.

  • Thank you for this program. For me this is the first time hearing the world “foraging”

  • Living in the big city I have no chance to gather my food from the wild. Almost foods, fruits, vegetables… I often buy at market or convenient store. Sometimes, my friend gave to me termite mushrooms as a gift when their visit home town. I wish I could pick termite mushrooms from the wild.

  • An interesting story. I like nature, so I hope I can forage, but unfortunately, there are no parks or forest in my area. I’m looking forword to find a foraging group to hike with them.

  • Sure, becouse I live in villige always in weekend we go me and our family to forgaing the food. It’s just for a fun, but all the mashrooms in our land it’s become not edible. But we forgan some of herbs like: rosemarry, and some famous wild herbs in our zone used for hair and for skin also, some wild flower that has a good smlie. thanks spotlightenglish for this interesting term.

  • That’s sounds great, but I have never gathered food from the wild.I hope have an opportunity to try it .

  • I have not tried foraging before into forests and mountains. Hunting only some wild animals when I was young, but currently, I’m not able to go on this way.

  • i think that forging will make you feel that there is a connection with the nuture and that will make you feel that you are a real man not a robot all time in social media in addition to improve your health and body with the power of the nutuer.

  • I have never gather my food from the wild ,and I would try finding my food I. This way . THANK YOU SPOTLIGHT .

  • I never tried foraging before because i’m in a big city and there no forests or mountains for gathering my food, but I would try this experience and i should recognize to poisonous plants and avoid it .

  • I didn’t gathered food from wild , but one time I piked up of strawpery frome local farm , it is wonderfull atteptment , was a taste a swetty and little sour , with fees about 25 ryales , I intersting and aten lovely .

  • I didn’t like to forage my own food because I didn’t have any experience for it so I prefer to get the food from the store or farm.

  • I have never tried this thing because the area where I live don’t have forests and oasis also I think this is ancient style to get the food

  • I never finding foot this way. But i like foraging. Thank you very much for your information and your voices are warm. Thank you!

  • very good podcast and I’m not try before forageing wild food .
    but after this story i hope is living this way to find nature food

  • In Robin Hood’s time it was normal to search the woods for everything necessary to live. I think it might have been nice to live so close to nature, because they were used to it. In many Italian cities, at different times of the year, past eras are recalled, especially the medieval ones, with festivals, performances and ceremonies that illustrate how people dressed, ate and worked. Each era had interesting aspects that deserve to be remembered.

  • I have never gather my food. I live in a city anf it’s no easy finding food except at the supermarket. And also I think it’s necessary being a good expert about plants, leaves, berry…Then we don’t only eat vegetebles, it’s necessary hunting for eating also meat.I find impossible to practice this theory in the reality. We aren’t mokeys or castaway.

  • When I was five I was enjoy to gather the planet from the garden and Nurseries and the planets whi grows behind the street. But, I’ve never try to foraging the food because I wasn’t have the appropriate experience and the information about the planets

  • yes I use to get my food from the wild, because my grandfather never stop planting he have several kind of vegetable and fruits , every evening we prepare our diner with a fresh food, if I have the time I will love the experience to finding a fresh food forgoing for food it’s a norther kind of adventure it’s not that easy but I would like to try that experience.

  • Wow. getting wild food is more complicated then I thought. I didn’t used get food outside the supermarket. Maybe someday I will read more about gathering food from the wilds and try it.

  • Thank ypu for your useful podcast .Now in my country not gather our food from wild but I think we start that in the futur.And I love this way to gather food because it is healthy.

More from this show

Episode 12