A forager from Manchester has launched a delivery service to rewild our tastebuds and showcase nature’s unsung ingredients
Oak leaf tea, acorn coffee, Scot’s pine pollen syrup. These are just some of the weird and wonderful items that forager Jim Parums sends to subscribers to his wild food delivery service.
Forage Box showcases unusual ingredients that grow bountifully in the British Isles yet are routinely overlooked by untrained eyes.
“I was made redundant in 2018, which was a stinker,” said Parums, whose wife Cat encouraged him to do something he actually wanted to do next. So, he joined a foraging company based near Manchester as a picker. “I got the bug and thought: this is what I want to do.”
Then came lockdown – “the kick up the arse that I needed” – and Forage Box was born. Parums now spends most days stomping through the countryside, foraging for wild flavours. One morning he could be scouring the coast for sea beet or samphire; the next he might be in a forest, shaking Scot’s pines to collect pollen syrup.
“The flavours are big and bold – that’s the point. The idea is to show there’s a lot more going on when nature gets to farm it.”
Boxes are delivered to subscribers every month. Each one contains fresh ingredients as well as items made by Parums, who says his practices are sustainable.
“Most of what I send out is a wild, more exciting alternative to something people will be familiar with,” he said, citing sea beet as a bold substitute for spinach, for example.
All the “fiddly stuff”, he says, is done at his end – such as straining pine pollen syrup or roasting acorn coffee. “When subscribers get the products, they are one step away from consuming them,” he added, claiming that this is what sets his startup apart from other commercial foraging businesses.
The idea is to show there’s a lot more going on when nature gets to farm it
At £15 per month plus postage, the boxes are by Parums’ own admission “a luxury”, especially in tough times.
“They offer a snapshot [of what’s out there], and the idea is that people get excited and go and do it for themselves – with caution, obviously,” he said. “I don’t send out meal kits, I send easy-to-use ingredients that people can substitute for something they might have had 50 times from the supermarket and are bored of.”
Main image: Forage Box