Bruce French, agricultural scientist, Baptist pastor in Penguin and founder of Food Plants International presented “Wild Foods of Tasmania” in August. Many overlooked and wild foods are edible and nutritious- both native and introduced. Much to the surprise of his adult children Pastor Bruce is now a ‘trendy’ as the gourmet world rediscovers just how tasty some of these ‘famine foods’ are. Bruce showed us his slide show, which is available on DVD, of some of those suitable for foraging. He brought along a portion of his vast library and offered to share these resources from his home with anyone who needs help in researching something.
Pastor Bruce also discussed some of the problems and solutions to sustainable agriculture in the tropics and developing nations which are equally applicable to Australia
*growing a diversity of food plants not relying on just a few staples like potatoes, rice, wheat, corn and tomatoes.
*growing native foods which are well adapted to climate and soil rather than importing more difficult to grow foods which fill the same nutritional needs
*harvest and eat the weeds instead of spraying them
He is devoted to helping to solve global malnutrition through his work with Rotary International, and Food Plants International
CD of his plant databases including the presentation are available from Rotary Devonport Learn Grow
Foraging should not be under taken in reserves or national parks and requires caution on public land in case of sprays – please go with someone who knows the plants, read up and exercise common sense! Pastor Bruce suggests we cultivate rather than forage – a good way is to start identifying native species with a large variety of names which suggests they have a wide natural diversity and select the tastiest specimens to grow in the garden. “Rinse and repeat” – in this way wild plant species are quickly improved for human consumption.
Bruce also mentioned the pioneering work in commercialising native food by Vic Cherikoff http://www.cherikoff.net/cherikoff/
Other useful information:
Native spinach – tetragonia, is sold as Warrigal Greens in restaurants. Plentiful along the beaches of the Northwest coast (both the New Zealand species and the native smaller leaved tasmanian variety) it is easily grown in sandy soil in a shady spot under some other bush through which it will clamber. Best in spring – harvest tender tip leaves with deep green colour from shady areas. Boil for 3 mins and rinse before eating to remove oxalic acid. Mild tasting, slightly salty, excellent with tasmanian scallops, freezes well. Try serving cold with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, a dash of sesame oil and sweet soy sauce.
very thorough videos by Green Deane which are very helpful in identifying and preparing edible introduced weeds also commonly found in Tasmania – eg. The sword fern a common potplant which is native to northetn australia and Nepal eattheweeds.com