Modern rural fantasy is an idea that has overtaken social media since the pandemic began last year. From cottagecore to crochet, many of us used jamming to slow down and thought of making things out of nothing. At its core, the aesthetic trends that have dominated social media rely on a basic idea of ​​escape. When everyone had to be inside and isolated, the outside has never looked more attractive, as nature became a canvas for all things fantastic and contrary to our current conditions.

With more of us inside and cooking for ourselves than ever before, it makes sense that our bucolic fantasy is extending to the way we even think about food. The rise of veganism and vegetarian diets has put an emphasis on home cooking. According to The Vegan Society, a study found that between 2014 – 2019 the number of vegans in the UK quadrupled. From 150,000 in 2014 to 600,000 in 2019. Following the trend, the alternative protein industry, including plant-based meat, raised $ 3.1 billion in investments in 2020 — the most in the history of the industry. In May 2021, another poll by The Vegan Society found that “1 in 4 Britons had reduced the amount of animal products they were consuming since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic” marking a move towards investment and climate-friendly consumption.

At TikTok, where every country has a home, the hashtag #foragingtiktok, which has 14.1 million views, has created a community of people showing off the treasures they have found in the forest, from mushrooms turning blue when cut into slices to raising awareness. poisonous plant potential.

Megan Howlett runs the @thegardencottage account with 144.9 thousand followers. Her most popular witch egg search video, a kind of mushroom that literally looks like a boiled egg, which you can only find during the fall Halloween season, hence the name, currently stands at 240.2k views . Megan’s videos cover everything from the various foods you can eat in a particular month, like pineapple weeds in July and forgotten blue flowers in June, to the basket and notebook she takes with her to the forage, and recipes simple to make body butter from freshly selected lavender and chamomile.

As a full-time fodder and wild runner hoping to create courses to teach others about food, says Megan, who lives in a small town called Midhurst in East Sussex, UK, says iD that her interest in food came from her grandparents. “To try to keep busy with me and my brother, when we were really young, they would take us out like berry picking, berry picking, seafood, things like that,” she says. “They never called him a fodder, but that was what it was.”

Despite its popularity, however, Megan’s account was not originally intended to be about search content. What initially started simply as a hobby for the 23-year-old has become a career, largely thanks to the pandemic.

“During Covid, I graduated [with a degree in Animation], and I had a job lined up, and it failed. “I was a little lost and did not know what I wanted to do with my life,” she explains. But I had already started an Instagram for vegan food. So when I started TikTok, here I went with it, vegan food including some forest stuff. I just started posting things like “oh, by the way, these are things you can find in January,” people liked it “.

Education is essential to Megan’s content, which is not unique in the world of social media food search. In fact, there is an emphasis on making hobbies and lifestyles much more accessible in terms of knowledge and education. “I refuse to post anything that is like to certain families, like the carrot family, I will never post anything that is there because of the connection to the poisonous herd,” Megan offers as an example. “I think we just need to be more aware of regional edibility and global edibility; you can’t just say everyone looks the same,” she said.

Megan tells ID that there is still a problem with raising awareness of the types of products you can eat because of the different types of edible mushrooms in the UK compared to those in America. Hemlock, a poisonous plant from the carrot family, grows near fences and roadsides, with accidental poisoning occurring when people confuse parsley root, parsley leaves, or anise seeds. Improper identification and eating of hemlock can lead to death.

Laura, also 23, is probably best known for her TikTok glove- @ foragingfaerie- and is just as enthusiastic about wildlife in the UK, with her most watched video of pearl balm production at 114.6k . But unlike Megan, Laura was not taught about looking for food by a family member and instead learned about it independently. “Basically, I had a lot of nettles in my back garden. And I thought maybe there’s something I can do with them. So I started looking at recipes and then I made nettle soup. And I was, Oh, that ‘s really good. “I want to try to do more things like that. So I bought some books and just went through my local area,” she says.

For Laura, growing young fodder comes from doing something yourself and pushing today’s life online. She tells ID, “I think they’re getting away with this ubiquitous technology. Besides doing something yourself, you’ve found it and made something out of it. You can find things in your garden and do something with him. “

According to a 2020 study by Nature England, adults from ethnic minority groups were less likely to have visited a natural area, with 51% of adults from ethnic minority groups visiting in the last 14 days , compared to 60% of white British adults. With that in mind, groups have grown, trying to correct the lack of outdoor representation for people of color (Peaks of Color, a group that started in July in Sheffield, offers monthly increases throughout the Peak District). Outside of walks and walks, other organizations emphasize urban agriculture in the UK to reconnect with nature.

But the food search community is huge beyond the UK. Aanjaneya, 19, who passes by the @aan handleAaanjaneya through social media, is a marine biologist from Texas who also started getting food through his grandparents. “Occasionally,” he said, “I would go fishing with my grandparents and my grandmother would show coconut, wild amaranth and other fruits that were edible while we were out in nature and fishing. I never thought much for But in high school, I took an ecology class for two years, where my projects had a lot to do with freshwater systems, especially streams in Houston, Texas, where I was working with riparian plants, and was became a side obsession. “

Like Megan, Aanjaneya has taken his passion to TikTok, where his most-watched video showing the locust catch has over 25,000 views. “I had a great response on TikTok for my food search videos, especially since I feed plants from my district, but then supplement them with fish or shrimp I catch, which is right in my alley as a marine biologist,” he says. he “It’s the best of both worlds, and people like to see it.”

But as he grew up, Aanjaneya realized that the hobby was not popular in his community, Houston or Corpus Christi, and that there were not many young people and POCs like him. So he undertook to look for plants that looked edible in iNaturalist, Wikipedia and ForagingTexas to find their nutritional value. “As a young POC, I admit that fishing is not really a hobby associated with me, but I have learned to embrace it and run with it,” he says.

“I may not be the best fisherman or seeker out there, but there are many things you can teach yourself. I had no one to show me the ropes, only a few occasions with my grandparents. I had to learn a lot. I want to encourage more children, women, POCs and LGBTQ + people to enjoy the outdoors and not find themselves separated from it to have a more environmentally conscious future. good to do this by learning to eat consistently. ”

Aanjaneya points out that food and fishing are hobbies that are generally not attributed to him as a person of color, he is trying to get more people to enjoy the outdoors through his platform. Other great food search TikTokers like @AlexisNikole, a black fodder whom he sees as an inspiring role model for young people entering food, are embracing tradition and helping POCs of all ages learn what it means eating and being more environmentally conscious about the food produced.

In an interview with enjoy your meal, Alexis explains that she “is not the person people expect to be excited about food, outdoors, biology, botany and history”, which leads to more questions about her knowledge about the field. But it’s worth it when her followers send her thank-you messages to learn more about their environment.

The focus on paying for knowledge ahead is an ideal shared by Megan, Laura, Aanjaneya and Alexis. This focus is at the heart of the new generation of TikTok fodder, who are committed to making the hobby easily accessible, easily understood and consequently more embraced. As climate change also becomes an urgent concern, realizing that we can take better care of our environment if we learn more about them is more important than ever. In their efforts to make food accessible and less intimidating to all, even if you are seen as someone who does not normally occupy that space, the new generation of TikTok fodder is leading the charge to encourage us to respect the land and learn what it gets from it.

Follow iD on Instagram and TikTok for more TikTok mushrooms.

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