Wild food ban
I know we normally keep blog style posts away from the front page, but I am so livid that I feel I had to share. I have a friend who works as a civil servant in Westminster, I can’t really divulge much more than that for the sake of her job.
I was up in London on Wednesday meeting up with my publisher and discussing plans for my latest book, Booze for free. I was telling her how happy I was the way things were going and despite the grey day I had a spring in my step. Things are certainly looking up I told her.
She looked up from her pint and touched my hand in a way people do just before they are about to tell you someone has died. She shook her head and breathed deeply.
“I’ve just been given some news from Brussels, news that will directly affect you and many others like you”. I really am not used to her acting like this and was utterly taken aback. She carried on talking, not pausing for breath.
She talked of the new EU laws coming in next month concerning herbal medicine, laws that have herbalists across Europe in a twist. The laws will outlaw the practice of combining and preparing herbs unless you have a costly licence. Although that concerns some around me it does not concern me I told her. She told me it does, picking herbs or any wild plant for “medicinal or culinary use” will be made illegal under a little known subsection of this act. A subsection that the EU have purposely kept quiet about. The law states even sharing knowledge of wild plants without a licence will be made illegal. It would seem that something so utterly essential, something so benign isn’t safe from European bureaucrats. On a human level it is an utter travesty.
On a personal level its game over. It means I will have wipe all the wild food recipes from Selfsufficientish, give up writing for Home farmer and Countryfile magazines and give up my wild food walks. My book can’t be published and in one swoop I will be left without anyway of supporting myself or any future family I may have.
When she told me I sat back in my chair and wept. There was nothing else I could do. Now, that has passed and I’m angry, very angry. I’m planning ways of fighting back and I might need your help.
I’ve got to only hope either Andy is wrong or somehow this stupid law is appealed. Either way I think I shall carry on foraging. Laws have to be policed for people to follow them and if there is no one there to stop you, who will know if you are doing it?
So with that in mind I would like to introduce a new kind of fruit I’ve recently discovered, commonly known as the Doubt Berry. It was first thought this berry got its name as many doubted its very existence as it can be very hard to find. However, recent evidence now suggests its name comes from the Sandskrit word doblehaha meaning to laugh twice. Botanic studies have placed the berry in the Canyonero family (sometimes called the sports utility family).
Personally I think the first description of the plants name is most fitting as the plant is exceptionally rare. In over ten years of foraging for the plant I have only ever found one single plant. Its rarity has led to a kind of hysteria similar to that set off by Tulips in the 17thCenturary where single bulbs could be sold for more than the price of an average house. Doubt berries or berries of the Aprilus stultus bush can fetch in excess of £350000 and cuttings of the plant alone are worth thousands.
I have long since forgotten the whereabouts of my plant in rural Oxfordshire (not for want of trying!) but I shall never forget the taste. Now this is the real twist with the doubt berry, they are rather insipid, a little like the fruit of the strawberry tree or Arbutus unedo. I can’t remember being that impressed by them. The fruiting time of April is impressive though as it means the berries are ready far before any of the other summer fruit. If there were enough of these plants in existence I’m sure the flavour could be improved upon and it could make for a promising novel crop.