COVID-19: The end of the world as we know it?


Our foraging events are postponed until further notice, for obvious reasons. I will be contacting everybody booked on our workshops, to make alternative arrangements.

It is deeply ironic timing for me. I’ve spent the winter months working on my second book, which is a guide to the edible plants and seaweeds of north-west Europe. I’d already planned to spend this spring focusing my research on some of the things I’ve neglected in the past because they were primarily “only” famine foods, as well as experimenting with various techniques for preserving wild food. This morning, as I was pounding reedmace rhizomes to extract the starch, I find myself in a world where the local supermarket shelves have been stripped bare by people who for the first time in their lives are worried about the security of their food supply. Fear of this sort, on this scale, hasn’t been known in peacetime Europe since the potato famine of 1845-49. I feel it myself. This crisis could continue for many months — and even longer if a vaccine proves elusive — and being a global problem there is absolutely no guarantee that food currently imported into the UK will keep coming. Should it falter, it is very hard to see how this country will be able to feed itself. So this spring I will not just be storing wild food as experimental research for a book; it will actually be for real.

My family has been preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 for the last six weeks, and we continue to prepare. We are in total isolation, because I am in one of the people at risk dying. I’m only 51, but my lungs aren’t in great shape because I’m an ex-smoker who suffered a nasty attack of pneumonia two years ago.

Stay safe and good luck. We are all going to need it.

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