Urban foraging etiquette: Finding your food outdoors

Rules everyone should follow

Foraging is the search, identification and collection of edible treasures growing wild such as plants, herbs, mushrooms, fruit, nuts and even shellfish, you just have to know where to look. You’ll be armed with nothing but a basket, boots and pocket knife and you’ll head into the mountain, park, garden, beach or forest. It is here you’ll track down elusive chanterelle mushroom, pine rings, dandelion greens and more. How’s that for working up an appetite?

Before the foraging fun begins, there are a few rules that must be followed when collecting your edible treasures for safe, sustainable & responsible foraging. As a Primal Provider it’s all about making your catch, cooking and eating healthy food, while understanding and taking care of our environment.


Dean Dickinson


  1. When you begin foraging, it’s really important to get a guidebook to use for species identification or take a foraging course in your city. NEVER consume foraged finds unless you are 100% sure of its identification, as there are non-edible treasures out there that can kill you. Be cautious when trying new foraged finds and when in doubt, consult your guidebook or leave it out! 
  2. Do not pick endangered species, it’s not only illegal to pick but unethical. Sometimes your body will have intolerances from eating foraged finds. Learn about possible reactions and allergies from guidebooks or foraging corses. Avoid consuming foraged food if you have medical conditions, are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  3. LIMIT YOUR CATCH! DON’T CATCH YOUR LIMIT! The golden rule is to only ever take what you need! Over-picking is not sustainable and it’s important to leave plenty behind for wildlife and for others to enjoy.
  4. Whether your fertile foraging ground happens to be in Rondebosch Common, Wynberg Park, Struisbaai Coast or your secret spots, leave no trace behind and respect nature. You’ll need to minimise damage to the habitat, wildlife and species as you are scrambling over boulders, turning over wooden stumps, and scratching around mulch on the forest floor in search of your edible treasure. 
  5. As you see what tender morsels Mother Nature has up her sleeve on that particular day, you’ll need to gently remove your edible treasures from the ground, ocean, plant or tree and store them in your basket for safe keeping. Use adequate tools such as a knife or pair of scissors to avoid excess damage to your edible treasure or do inadvertent uprooting. By picking plants from the root, its chance to reproduce decreases and you will not be able to pick edible treasures in the future.
  6. It can sometimes be quite a stiff hike or search before you luck out on some loot, however you should not trespass to forage for edible treasure. You should only forage on property that you have gained permission to enter and always leave it as you found it in the first place.
  7. Edible treasures are normally tucked away in the shady nooks and crannies of the woods, ocean or parks, NEVER pick foraged finds in places subjected to pollution or  pick plants growing near polluted water sources. Avoid roadsides, industrial estates, dog walking areas and agricultural land that may be sprayed with herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers.
  8. Lastly, share your knowledge. Teach others to respect nature and learn about the environment.


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