In my 23 years on the fruitful path, there is one factor that I feel has been very important in ensuring that I remain happy and healthy on this diet—this is for my diet to contain top-quality, perfectly ripe fruits to ensure my micronutrient needs are met.
I believe that foraging of both wild and suburban fruits can greatly enhance the micronutrient content of one’s diet.
How Can Foraged Foods Help?
One reason for this is because foraged wild fruits are generally higher in micronutrients—including vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants—than most commercially grown produce.
This is partly because wild-growing fruits are picked when perfectly ripe and are not sprayed with chemicals or artificially fertilized. Another reason why wild fruits tend to be so high in nutrition is because they need to be pretty tough to survive continual insect and animal attack, and this struggle to exist can boost phytonutrient content in the plant.
In recent times, foraging for fruit seems to have somewhat fallen out of favour as increasing urbanisation has meant fewer fruit orchards, and a large range of affordable store-bought fruits has ensured year-round availability of many fruit varieties.
However, many people on raw vegan diets have found foraging can still be successfully carried out in a variety of climates and in cities and forests alike.
Design of a Fruit Forager
One reason that I believe foraging is so enjoyable is that humans are, by design, fruit foragers, and so it was imperative to our survival that we found finding our own food enjoyable.
Humans have sufficient brain development to remember where the fruit trees are and when they are in season, we have eyes with great stereoscopic colour vision for spotting brightly coloured fruits in the green foliage, we have bodies that are very adept at climbing trees, and we have handy opposable thumbs that make fruit-picking a breeze.
Although foraging can be great fun for adults and children alike, it is vital to forage safely. So equip yourself with a reliable guidebook, suitable for your geographical location, with clear photos or pictures. A good selection can be found on Amazon or Abebooks.
If in doubt of a plant’s edibility, please leave it well alone! Always ensure that you have a positive identification of a food before eating it. Not all fruits are edible for humans; if it is more advantageous to the plant for birds to spread its seeds, then the fruit may, at best, taste nasty or, at worst, be poisonous! I would also advise to please be respectful and never pick fruit from private gardens unless you have permission.
Shop Anne Osborne Products in the Fruit-Powered Store
And courtesy also extends to the fruit trees. I suggest being mindful of any blossoms on the trees or plants you are foraging from; some trees, like avocado trees, can have fruit and blossoms on at the same time, and blossoms can be damaged easily, thereby affecting the next year’s crop.
Cherries (Prunus avium) are a fruit that can be found growing in many suburban areas. Local parks and housing estates are often planted with edible cherry trees. Cherries are one of the earliest trees to fruit.
Cherries are a good fruit source of potassium, beta-carotene and melatonin and contain useful amounts of copper, iron and zinc; they are also a traditional remedy to help alleviate gout and to help protect the teeth from decay.
In August and September, temperate regions delight in the bounty of local blackberries (Rubus fruticosus).
Blackberries, when ripe, should come away easily from the briar; the top end where the fruit has detached from the plant is light purple in a truly ripe fruit. Opt for plump glossy berries and avoid any that look dull or have mould on their skin. Also, avoid fruit growing in areas where there is a lot of passing road traffic, and steer clear of fruit below knee height in dog-walking areas!
Blackberries can be found in parks, on waste ground and along footpaths. These berries are a good fruit source of Vitamins C and K, folate, calcium, magnesium and anthocyanins. One 2006 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the antioxidant content of blackberries was higher than any other food tested.
Also, in August and September, black mulberries (Morus nigra) can be foraged. Mulberry trees can be found in well-established parkland or overhanging garden walls. These are fruits high in valuable antioxidants such as anthocyanins, and, like blackberries, their dark pigment reflects high levels of phytonutrients.
Another late-summer fruit is the rosehip (Rosa genus), which can be found in city parks and gardens; often the fatter the rosehip, the moister and tastier is the fruit.
Rosehips are a wonderful source of Vitamin C. During the Second World War, when scurvy was common due to a lack of availability of fresh fruit, the U.K. government organised the collection of wild rosehips; collectors were paid one-and-a-half pennies per pound!
Each year, thousands of tonnes of rosehips were collected and helped to keep the British population healthy.
Rosehips also contain useful amounts of calcium, beta carotene and Vitamins E and K.
Another temperate forageable fruit is the fig (Ficus carica). After a long, hot summer, you may be fortunate enough to find some hanging ripe and sun-warmed over a garden wall. Figs are a good fruit source of calcium and contain useful amounts of iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and Vitamin K.
If you live in a subtropical or tropical climate, there will be different treasures to forage.
Mangoes (Mangifera genus) can be found in many tropical areas. The trees grow at the side of the road and on common and parklands, they are a good fruit source of beta-carotene, Vitamins C and E, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Another widely foraged tropical fruit is the jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus). These highly nutritious fruits can often be found in old abandoned orchards, growing wild in wasteland and in established gardens.
Jackfruits are a valuable fruit source of carbohydrates, beta carotene, Vitamin C, iron and calcium.
In temperate climates, the Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa) is often seen as a house plant, but in the warmer climes, it grows wild by the side of footpaths and roads, and its unusual-tasting fruits can be foraged.
Whatever climate you live in, there is a beautiful bounty of forageable fruits just waiting to be discovered. By reading about and researching foraging and discovering which wild foods grow in your area, you will be able to add more and more nutrient-rich fruits to your diet.