Foraging with VICE Media in North Wales

Hunting for wild food with VICE, Munchies and Visit Britain

Back in November 2018 I spent a couple of days working on two articles for VICE – one was taking renowned sandwich chef Max Halley foraging for edibles on a North Wales beach, and for the other I wandered around a damp forest with writer Angela Hui and photographer Elijah Thomas. Each piece was part of a wider project promoting the idea of ‘microgapping’ in the UK.

I have been doing media pieces on foraging here and there for the past few years, and they often end up in the same places:

“Can I eat this? Really?”
“How did you get into foraging?”
“What’s your favourite food?”

This is, of course, absolutely fine. Foraging and wild food can be a vast and nebulous subject to deal with, and the point of most of the articles and projects I’ve worked on have been approaching foraging from a beginner’s point of view. It is what I have come to expect, and to be perfectly honest it was what I expected from the various members of the VICE team I spoke to…

foraging north wales vice
foraging tv show uk

The two days I spent flinging journalists and presenters at edible lumps of landscape for VICE were different though. I had seen a couple of the videos Max had appeared in for VICE’s foodie brand “Munchies” and knew I should expect a vibrant and energetic personality – but right from the start he was genuinely interested in not only the food, but the reasons people choose to forage. He is a fascinating person to talk to, and even though our section together in the video embedded below lasts for just a couple of minutes we filmed for a couple of hours. We somehow managed to ramble through paleoanthrobotany, the subject of what constitutes ‘appropriate’ footwear and the trials of trying to navigate across North London on a Sunday.

We met on the long, stoney beach of Dinas Dinlle to look for some protein, a bit of seaweed and to explore the shore together then to cook something. The crew have done a great job of making the windswept and slightly bleak foreshore of Dinas Dinlle look actually rather pleasant!

For the second trip out I met Angela and Elijah for a lengthy wander through a mixed woodland, talking about fungi, the rise of foraging awareness in the wider public consciousness and working out the balance between personal freedoms and social responsibility.

I think I may have even used the term ‘post-modern foraging’ at one point.

I promise not to do it again.

Angela has broken my ramblings down into something coherent, and Elijah’s use of film captured the subdued-but-glorious feel of a Welsh woodland in late autumn.

I think the public perceptions of foraging, wild food and how we interact with the landscape around us are changing. There was a period not too long ago where digging around in the hedgerows and fields for your dinner was seen as a pastime of the eccentric, crusty or impoverished. To forage was to be a bit of an outsider, even if TV shows (and their producers) were starting to get the idea that this COULD be a mainstream activity.

The meteoric rise of the internet at the turn of the century, the rise of social media and the new-found ability to connect with groups and individuals who share the same ideals changed all of that.

Now groups can come together online from across the world to shard plant IDs, ask questions and be inspired to get out there and find their food in a different way – but they can also miss important steps, be misled by over-enthusiastic amateurs with large social media followings and get stuck in online echo chambers.

We have entered a new period for wild food education, and it’s going to be an interesting time.

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