A movement is on foot, headed by Gloucestershire County Council, which has always been advanced in education and agricultural progress, to show the inhabitants of rural districts what extensive supplies of natural food lie at their doors, and to teach them how to utilize them.
Following the publication of a guide to “The Wild Foods of Great Britain”, which indicates over 260 articles of diet only awaiting collection by those who have learnt to distinguish them, and provides recipes to render them palatable and nutritious, it has been decided to send to villages and smaller towns demonstrators with travelling kitchens and appliances. They will point out the wild foods immediately available, and show how to prepare them for home consumption.
The amount of wild food that is wasted in England is incalculable. In Continental countries, and to a lesser extent in Scotland, these natural resources have never been neglected; while in most parts of the kingdom some one or other wild product of the countryside has always been used by its inhabitants. The instructors will find that in one place snails, in another the edible frog, in others hedgehogs, in some nettles, or whortleberries, or avrons, or the edible fungus called blewits, and on the coasts dulse and laver and samphire are already commonly eaten, though not to the extent that they were when Cobbett took his “Rural Rides”. It will not be difficult to demonstrate that there are others of the 70 odd food-producing plants, edible fungi, and fresh-water fish equally worth gathering and eating.
In most places there will be found someone, possibly the daughter of the squire, or parson, or doctor, or the wife of the schoolmaster, who will be willing to continue the work after the county council instructors have left, to whom the inhabitants may refer specimens about which they are in doubt. During the winter months, when a large supply of natural food is still available, the demonstrations will be continued with the aid of lantern slides, so that when the critical period arrives, between February and June, 1918 — whether the war should end abruptly or not— practically all the country people of Great Britain will know how to find sufficient wild food in their own locality to keep the wolf from the door.