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15th Oct 2023

‘I’m an urban forager – 50% of my food comes from the streets and I spend just £5-a-week at the supermarket’


‘I have replaced most of my diet with mushrooms’

An ‘urban forager’ spends just £5-a-week on shop-bough food by eating wild mushrooms and seafood – which he picks up from city parks and streets.

Christian Amys, 41, started foraging during lockdown and is self-taught in what to find. Now he eats a diet of 50 per cent foraged food – finding mushrooms, onion, leeks and even seafood from Brighton’s city streets.

The 41-year-old gets the rest of his food from supermarkets and farms.

Christian estimates he saves £50-a-week on food by foraging and will spend £5 to £10-a-week on essentials like coffee, milk, pasta and toilet roll.

The professional forager, who lives in Brighton, East Sussex, said: “During lockdown, I completely focused on foraging.

“I had so much time to walk in the wild and I saw a lot of people doing the same. “I would say 50 per cent of my food is foraged. If I am honest, if I had more time to forage it would probably be a lot more.

“I will spend around £5 to £10 on a food shop a week. If I am going home to eat I will pop round some forage spots.”

Christian quit his job as a chef in March 2020 and decided to make a career from foraging – because he wanted to incorporate his passion into his life.

He will often walk around Brighton’s busy streets and parks searching for his next meal.

Looking out for mushrooms and plants.

Christian said: “I have replaced most of my diet with mushrooms. I would much rather have mushrooms than meat.

“We do all our forages in the city or just outside the city. We forage in parks and around the city centre.

“It’s all about living a sustainable life. Last year we ran out of leeks in supermarkets.

“I went to my mates garden and foraged 15 kilos of leeks and started giving them out to people. “Why are we worrying about running out of things in supermarkets when we can forage and get them for free?”

Christian believes he has saved thousands over the years as he regularly only spends no more than £10 on a food shop to buy the essentials.

He said: “I rarely ever go to the supermarket, it is just the staples I get from there like tea and coffee.

“Over the years I have saved thousands. I am saving £50 a week on a food shop.

“There is a Back rock cliff in Brighton that I call my supermarket. When I go up there I will fill a basket with foraged foods.”

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Christian said people need to be careful when foraging and to avoid picking food from busy streets.

He said: “If you’re not 100 per cent sure what something is then don’t eat it – don’t munch a hunch.

“Some people might pick something and guess what it is, which can be dangerous. “We follow the rules. If I am picking a mushroom I will pick at it a few times before making the decision to eat it. “If your edible mushroom is dirty you can make it safe by washing it off.

“For example, you want to avoid harvesting any foods from a busy road, especially mushrooms.

“If it is a busy road they can absorb exhaust fumes.”

Now, Christian runs Urban Forage and uses his knowledge to help other people – running weekly workshops.

He said: “In April 2021 I did my first forage workshop, we showed people how to find wild garlic, mushrooms and seas vegetables – seaweeds that can be eaten and used for culinary purposes.

“We run two workshops a week where we take a group of 10 to 20 people and show them how to safely identify food.”

Examples of food Christian cooks:

– Hogweed slider

– Three-cornered leek and potato soup

– Wild garlic and nettle bread

– Seared beef steak mushroom

Examples of food Christian forages:

– Wild mushroom – Sea vegetables

– Seaweed

– Nuts

– Cherry plums

– Strawberries

– Elderberries –

Herbs Tips for foraging:

– Get a really good foraging book

– Enjoy it

– Research good foraging spots