5 things to know about coastal foraging
Brought to you by CBS Reality
The bounty of the sea is indeed a splendid thing. The Khoisan, who lived along the coastal areas of the Western Cape hundreds of years ago, knew this for a fact, and there is plenty of proof of them having foraged along the beaches.
Evidence from Peers Cave, in Fish Hoek, shows the diet of the people who once lived there included seashells and mussels, as well as fish they caught in tidal traps, and small skin bags that were probably used for foraging have been found.
Coastline foraging doesn’t mean just investigating the hundreds of rockpools that line the shore for seaweed, crustaceans and shellfish; it’s also about the wild plants that grow along the dunes and in among the rocks and cliff crevices. Many of these can add a delightful and unusual spin to a mediocre dish, giving a really authentic taste.
But seashore foraging isn’t as simple as it sounds, and you need to be aware of a few things. Roushanna Gray, who runs Veld and Sea, a Cape-Town based experienced business that offers workshops where people can experience the joys of foraging, has some advice.
- Make sure you’re doing it legally. The first thing you need is a mollusc permit to legally collect both shellfish and seaweeds. Remember that it’s illegal to collect plants from parks and reserves or to collect seaweed from marine-protected areas.
- Invest in a local beach guidebook like Two Oceans or, even better, take a class or a course to learn about legal, responsible, sustainable and regenerative foraging practices. Never collect from a polluted ocean.
- The most common thing to forage for along the coastline is mussels! Try to collect the invasive Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) as they are the fastest growing and can outcompete our local species.
- Foraging for sea vegetables is a sustainable seafood choice as they form the bottom of the ocean food chain. Gathering them yourself connects you to nature and to the source of your food in a wildly delicious way. Seaweeds are an overlooked and underutilised source of food and nutrition, and each species has its own unique set of flavour and nutrients. Once you learn when and how to pick, and how best to prepare and preserve each seaweed or sea vegetable, there are endless new recipes to enjoy!
- Be sensitive when foraging – take only what you need for your own personal use to keep the coastal ecosystem in place. If something seems to be in short supply, leave it alone.
For more information or a truly hands-on foraging experience, contact Veld and Sea at www.veldandsea.com.
For coastal adventures of a different sort, watch Water Patrol on CBS Reality, DStv channel 132, weekends at 19:30. It’s all about the New Zealand Police Maritime and Dive Units that patrol the coastlines, rivers and lakes, monitoring illegal activities. You’ll be amazed at what people actually get up to!