Finding Your Food

Liz Waid and Colin Lowther look at foraging – searching for food growing wild. They look at the benefits, and some warnings, about this method.

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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.

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,

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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’.

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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?


Avatar Spotlight
said on November 19, 2018

That is a good idea! In the brazilian centereast there is a bioma we name “Cerrado”. It is very rich in wild plants which provides good foods like “Pequi”, “guariroba”, “Araticum”, “Ananás”, “Baru” and many others. There are rivers and lakes where live a lot of fishes. Everyone who knows this resources do not become hungry in the field. We can not hunt wild animals in Brazil, because it is forbiden by law, but we can fishing some delicious fishes…

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on November 21, 2018

When I was Child, I was live at village, I was going with family to some places outside the village. We was took fod from home but we was foraging for food from tree or land.
God bless you

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on November 24, 2018

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: to answer the questions below
Date: Saturday 24, November 2018
São Paulo city - São Paulo Brazil

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

First, I want to thank you for bringing us more one great article, thank you.
Question 1 - Do you ever gather your food the wild? No, I do not. Everything that I bought at the supermarket is permitted to eat.
Question 2 - Would you ever try finding food this way? No, I would not. But when I was a child I lived in Pernambuco State. So, my father worked in agriculture field and sometimes I had been working with him. However, I found some kind of fruits very tasty but one of them my father used to tell me that that kind of fruit you should not eat because it is bad for our health.
Your regards,
Severino Ramos
From Brazil

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Tran Kha
said on November 27, 2018

That’s good idea!!, and i wanna try doing it once time in my live, but I don’t have any experience about the food which safe to eat. I think people can create a game in real time like survival game. Organizer will arrange some foods can eat and can’t eat in small forest for player can learn and get experience.

Avatar Spotlight
said on February 06, 2020

That’s is a good idea! But unfortunately I never have been a forage, because I know for example for mushrooms you need a class that leaves you a permit, to forage for that kind of wild food. Thanks to all of you Spotlight staff. Have a great day! Bye Carlo

Avatar Spotlight
said on March 21, 2020

This article has shown us a lot of people who want to blend in with nature and that’s a very good thing.  Find your own food as a surprise every day because we don’t know what to find today.  This stimulates people’s curiosity and viability.  From this experience, it also helps to increase the knowledge about wild foods, increasing the awareness of toxic foods.  The article has inspired people to mingle with wild nature and challenge themselves.