Let’s travel back far in time to the sources of humanity, to observe the first traces of the forager-gatherer. Gathering. Hunting. Fishing. Those were primary actions for survival an omnipotent and reigning Nature entitled humans to.
Gathering plants to nourish and heal ourselves is something that has gone on ever since. In France there are still a few hundred men and women who forage to keep body and soul together. They are the heirs of a tradition whose secrets have been passed on orally since immemorial times. They are pickers of fresh herbs for homeopathic use, hunters of plants to dry for herbalist’s shops, discoverers of myriad other wild botanical resources, specifically fragrance-rich, aromatic and medicinal plants.
At the origin of a perfumed soap or essential oil, a wood-scented fragrance, a tasty meal… a whole portrait of a territory can be revealed, that of a chance meeting between the gatherer and wild plants in their natural environment. The story of a skilled gesture, a singular emotion, a smell, or a tactile sensation during a haphazard wandering quest along a forest path, “hunting” forest snacks in the footsteps of a deer or a squirrel.
Such ancestral customs are being rediscovered by those whom, like many others, are looking for a better relationship to food and health. Those in search of naturalistic knowledge.
Those seeking to unearth the forgotten mastery of “good herbs” and the way they were once used, sometimes by superstition.
While the demand for organic and natural products continues to increase, the forager-gatherer remains the link between modern society and nature, attentive to the disappearance of species and to ecological threats, striving to maintain biodiversity.
These protectors of Mother Nature are on the front line, reminding us that we still depend on living things. We can no longer pretend that it is possible to gather plants in a bucolic natural setting, one preserved from human impact.
Therefore, the modern human forager-gatherer has solemny vowed to struggle for sustainable and ethical harvesting, for responsible and virtuous professional practices.
As Craftsmen of the Living, they remind us of nature’s Mark of Effort, the necessity of time, the importance of a balanced climate … of listening and letting life alone… Especially of being humble towards the vegetal and all it has to offer.