Pick your flowers and eat them too. This forager shows us how
Roushanna Gray takes a bite of a delicate blossom. It’s not unusual to see her include buds, petals and leaves that she’s foraged in her meals. “In fynbos, there are so many different types of edible and medicinal species,” Gray says. South Africa’s biodiversity is as abundant as it is breathtaking. Centuries ago, local foliage served as people’s diets. Today, among artful food trends, indigenous blooms are returning to modern palates.
Gray aims to reveal a new perspective of the Western Cape’s flora to others. Her work involves taking groups walking through the untamed wilderness, or into a studio bursting with foliage. “We learn about the edible landscape through immersive workshops,” she says. Each season produces a fresh harvest. Gray’s pupils get to examine the unique flowers, roots and shoots up close. Following her lead, they are taught how to harvest and use them in cooking or for medicinal purposes. “Plants make us happy,” Gray says. “It’s exciting to start seeing them pop up on our menus.”
For Gray, foraging has always been the way forward. But it’s important to know which plants can be picked, and which still need to grow. This year, Gray received theSpier Sustainability award for her efforts to enhance the relationship between people and the wilderness through her company, Veld and Sea. South Africa’s flora is a national treasure. It can take care of us in more ways than we imagine.