Body solidarity

Street Food


World food with wild food


Street Food is a series of recipes inspired by the wild plants that grow abundantly in London as well as by the people who live here, and the culinary traditions they have brought with them from all over the planet.

Street Food is wild food, found literally on the urban streets, although always collected in safe spaces – parks, commons, away from roads, away from dog walked areas, not on old industrial sites – and Street Food also refers to the urban culture of eating food on the go, on the streets, without cutlery, with your hands, surrounded by passersby, prepared by people from around the world who are cooking to make a living. Street Food fills you up and nourishes you on a busy day. The culture of Street Food contributes to the atmosphere, safety and conviviality of the urban centres.  In this book, the vision of the urban includes the green spaces. We’ve moved from the tarmac streets into the parks and recreation grounds, into places where we can actually pick some wild food and cook it up, there and then, in the open air. With large groups of people we’ve experimented with each other’s cooking traditions and with the new-old ingredients of nettle, chickweed, plantain, dandelion, shepherd’s purse, thistle, elder, blackberry, dock, bittercress, rose petal, hawthorn, goosegrass, hogweed, fennel.

Street Food is a project developed by the organisation Invisible Food. For us, Invisible Food refers to everything that sustains us that isn’t ordinarily visible or easy to define. The ‘food’ has a literal and practical interpretation; the ‘food’ is the wild foods such as nettle, or elderflower that we can harvest and learn how to use. There is also a deeper, more soulful interpretation of Invisible ‘food’ as that which sustains us emotionally and spiritually, that which creates a strong community, friendship and support, a connection with the earth, and a commitment to social justice.  The project of monthly gathering plants and preparing a feast has become an accessible ritual, enticing to all regardless of cultural and religious background.

Throughout the project we have cooked dumplings, stews, pickles, fermented vegetables, and breads, dishes which are common around the world, each with a slightly different seasoning and spice mix. Many dishes have been adapted and taken root in cultures far away from where they originated, as people have moved and been moved around the globe. We explore the Vietnamese Bánh Mì, which is a product of the French introducing bread and paté to Vietnam in the colonial period. There are also wild food versions of dishes which are a symbol of diversity themselves, for example the Venezuelan Christmas dish, Hallaca, is a coming together of European, Indigenous and African traditions.  There are many ingredients in the recipes that follow that aren’t wild, they may need to be bought in a shop. There are many spices I’ve included that aren’t grown in this country. This isn’t a venture in trying to sustain only with wild food. The other ingredients are included, as while the main premise is how to cook wild plants in exciting ways, it’s also about how to prepare food that connects you, to a wise community of people with diverse backgrounds who happen to be living in the same place, at the same time, breathing with the same plants, sharing the same resources.

What we eat is one way to directly connect to the life forces of the planet. The more we engage with the processes of food harvesting and preparation, the more power we add to the energy we put into our mouths to nourish us.  We can take in various ways from nature. We can collect seeds, leaves, berries. We can dig up roots. It can be helpful to adopt an intention for the wild food we gather. For example, “This is the seed (or leaf, flower, root) that I have gathered with my own hands, and with it I prepare a dish that connects me to the abundance that this earth provides me with so effortlessly, so I may live and thrive.”  This intention is a very powerful thing as there is something in having an intention which acts as a safeguard against overtaking. While there are some glorious built-in safeguards in nature to ensure equal distribution, for example holly berries are toxic to humans but not to birds, we humans have to learn how take consciously, to take only what we need, to learn how much is enough, to leave what other creatures need more than us. This connection with knowing our true needs counters the tendency to being mechanical in our interactions with nature. And this is not just relevant at the harvesting stage. I try to look after seeds once I’ve collected them, to put them in a suitable bag in a suitable container, to shake them regularly, to check on them and look out for signs that they might need some other form of care. This intention that we nurture our actions with comes from the knowledge that once taking becomes mechanical, abuse and exploitation can easily occur, mining great big gash holes in the earth’s surface, cutting down the rainforest, cutting out our own lung.

There is a popular expression of large cities being inspiring places where people from many cultures live. London is a great example of this. Most Londoners enjoy being part of the diversity of this city, sometimes even those who have experienced racism along with it. What every Londoner will also experience in some form, are the shockwaves sent through society as a whole from the unseen dimensions of social systems that generate conflict, anger, bitterness, self-hate, destruction of the environment, physical abuse and violent communication. It seems a relevant issue to tackle for a project like Invisible Food – it’s the other side of that which feeds us –  which we tackle by bringing people together and creating a space to experience feelings of belonging and connection that transcends nation, race and class. These feelings of belonging will build stronger community networks in London and other cities.  I hope this book will be part of a process that strengthens and connects.

It’s been around 6-9 months since I first decided to run this event at this moment of Harvest time. 6-9 months of holding in my being, the possibility of working with S and R, my desire for connection around the cultures of South Asia, my desire for rooting this within the wild plants of South London.  And I spent the 2 weeks prior to the event intensively planning and checking in with Ramya, our playworker, about how we would hold the space for children. I met N and her family at the Lambeth Country Show at the Incredible Edible stall and we discovered a shared interest and excitement around the Bangladeshi street food dish, Fuska. N knew how to do it. She was up for coming to the Street Food event and cooking it for us. We connected a couple of times during the week to check what she would need and to check the recipe that I would share with participants in the spirit of learning and dissemination, of making a dish ‘visible’, in the spirit of “Eat it and try to cook it at home. Feel inspired to do something different. Feel a shift in your habits. Eat something you don’t normally eat. Nourish your body in a different way. See how it makes you feel. Identify where the nourishing happens, is it the combination of flavours? Is it the smell? Is it the newness? Is it the surprise?”


Similarly, S and I connected in a slightly different way.  We had a couple of talks on skype to check in, about our lives in general and specifically, around food. We set ourselves each 5 minutes to talk about South Asian food. I shared first my intention behind doing this workshop, which was to create an enjoyable space for connection across cultural barriers that sometimes we get stuck behind. My intention was for connection, for community, for inclusion where there is a history of exclusion, my intention was for contribution, for allowing a space for contribution. My intention was for fun.

We were inspired to cook biryani, with S leading on this. She’d never cooked it before. She’d seen her mother cook it as a child and shared with me how biryani is a dish fit for the queens and kings, it’s an honour to prepare and eat. It takes hours to prepare. We would do a one pot version, camping style, outdoors, in the park.

I felt inspired by the connection with S and N, the flow, the ease with which we were connecting and agreeing to create something together. With R, who’d agreed to come and cook pakora, it had been a similar experience. I felt very connected and humbled by the flow of these women agreeing to come along.


I spoke to S on Friday. We had an amazing connection. She wasn’t feeling very well and we spoke about not overriding the  body’s needs. She was silent for a long while as she connected to her deepest needs. I witnessed her self-connection in silence. She said she really needed rest. She said she was worried about letting me down. She asked how this was for me.  I said I was really happy that she was connected to her needs for rest. I said I was really inspired by the transparency of our conversation. I said I was sad we wouldn’t connect and do this project together. But most of all, I felt nourished by the strength of our connection, that we were processing this together. I felt included in her decision. I felt I was supporting her to connect to her needs. I felt supported in dealing with my sadness that she wouldn’t be participating in the event. I’m connecting to the power of this connection as I write and can feel it inside my body.


Then later on Friday, N got in touch. Her daughter was ill, she wouldn’t be able to come on Saturday. I felt a numbness of disappointment that I recognise as a recurring emotion in my life. I took a while to connect with myself around this feeling. It was only the following day, before I set about packing my things for the event, that I spoke to someone in my support network and I realised some things about this work and what I’m trying to do in Invisible Food. Somehow this shed light on the Street Food project and it may be that this is the missing ingredient as I go about structuring the book of monthly recipes.

This is what it is.  I connected to a need for safety in this work connecting to people across cultures. I feel anxious about the precariousness of the connections I have with people from different cultures.  I want to feel a greater sense of security and trust in my relationships with people with different cultural backgrounds. Community is so fragmented in London, people tend to connect and deeply connect with people from the same cultural and class background. Everytime I struggle to reach out to someone, to make a connection with a family at my son’s school who we want to play with for example, or on an Invisible Food activity, everytime I feel a fear, a pain that there are so many barriers between us, so much history of being separate, I have so much fear that we won’t connect, I’m afraid of hearing a no, it’s scary stepping out and saying I want to connect with you.


I’m connecting to a need to make this process more visible. To write about the struggle to create more community across cultural and class boundaries in London. I’m wondering how it will be to make visible all the work of connecting that I do, that is always invisible and there is sometimes nothing to show for it, as in the case of S and N not being able to come, there wasn’t the outcome of having their presence at the event.

On Saturday, at the event, as we began I talked about how S and N couldn’t be there as they were listening to their needs for rest and for the well being of family and I celebrated this self-connection, while also being sad that we couldn’t enjoy their presence. I guess this was one way of making visible this energy of reaching out and connecting that had been taking place over the previous two weeks and I guess that writing this now is another way. It’s a way of honouring in me, this desire for community, for inclusion, for connection, and to acknowledge that this work isn’t always visible and isn’t very often valued or celebrated.

I’m wondering where this lands in you, reading this now.

Today we looked at yarrow, goosegrass/cleavers, ladies bedstraw, nettle and then we drank nettle tea and spent some time with the nettles before writing and discussing. Next meditation Monday 23rd April 10am – 11.30am for the Taurus new moon. Get in touch if you’re interested.


I look at you

and I drink you

Crinkled, curled, pursed lips of leaves

Green spear

Light shining on

Light shining

A spear, a sword

Rushing into my bloodstream

Absorbing, being absorbed

The slant of another stem

An energetic pathway

beside this decaying log

so full of life

Next to green alkanet

So surreptitious, so full-bodied but bedraggled

A fighter, a warrior, to succeed, to grow, to fight on through

The little nettles, sparkling in the sun, droplets

There are 4 of us humans, inside, internal with the plants

We are strangers yet so connected as we connect through the plants

Through the plants, we sit by the plants

The sun sits on us all

Fire, fire plants

Fight my fire plant

Show me how to push on up and grow despite everything

I sip of earth.

And then we talked about love

One said, “It’s like it’s saying I might be all fiery on the outside but there’s an intelligent love on the inside”

Two said “There’s a deep connection to the earth through the nettle”

Three said “Love needs a lot of attentiveness”

Four  said, “It’s so hard to love”.

Through the plants, we sit by the plants

The sun sits on us all

Fire, fire plants

Fight my fire plant

Show me how to push on up and grow despite everything

I sip of earth.

Yarrow is a herb. The above ground parts are used to make medicine.
Yarrow is used for fever, common cold, hay fever, absence of menstruation, dysentery, diarrhea, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal (GI) tract discomfort, and to induce sweating.
Some people chew the fresh leaves to relieve toothache.
Yarrow is applied to the skin to stop bleeding from hemorrhoids; for wounds; and as a sitz bath for painful, lower pelvic, cramp-like conditions in women.
In combination with other herbs, yarrow is used for bloating, intestinal gas (flatulence), mild gastrointestinal (GI) cramping, and other GI complaints.
In foods, the young leaves and flowers of yarrow are used in salads.
In manufacturing, yarrow is also used as a cosmetic cleanser and in snuff. Yarrow oil is used in shampoos.

How does it work?

Yarrow contains many chemicals that might affect blood pressure and possibly have anti-inflammatory effects.

Yarrow seems to be safe for most adults. In some people, yarrow might cause drowsiness and increase urination when taken by mouth. When it comes in contact with the skin, yarrow might cause skin irritation.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Don’t take yarrow by mouth if you are pregnant. It is believed to affect the menstrual cycle and might cause a miscarriage.
It’s also best to avoid yarrow if you are breast-feeding. Not enough is known about its safety during nursing.
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Yarrow may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking yarrow.
Surgery: Yarrow might slow bloodclotting so there is a concern that it might increase bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking yarrow at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Wild herb meditations

Learn to identify wild spring herbs and flowers, spend some time in nature, go for a walk, be outdoors in warm company, meet some local people and bring all your knowledge, memories and curiosity. The session will include wild herb tea tasting.

This walk will enable you to see your natural environment in a different way, recognising potential food sources in the green spaces around you.

In order to welcome some silence and stillness into each session, we will look in depth at one plant, its properties and uses, we will spend some time contemplating the plant and journaling and/or drawing it. No prior experience required, just a willingness to spend some moments in silence as part of an otherwise social experience.

About Invisible Food

Invisible Food is an innovative, holistic project. We innovate with the wild plants that grow in London and toss them together with the culinary skills of residents who have settled here from all over the world. We create recipes made with unusual and yet common plants on everyone’s doorstep.

The project works on many levels, we are about environmental education and there is also a deeper, more soulful and humanistic interpretation of Invisible ‘food’ as that which sustains us emotionally and spiritually, that which creates a strong community, friendship and support, a connection with the earth, and a commitment to social justice.  It is an introduction to an accessible ritual, open to all regardless of cultural and religious background. We approach our task of bringing people together with common sense and love of collaboration and by opening a space for creative expression.

The project is led by Ceri Buckmaster, a socially-engaged writer and artist. Her work explores how learning new skills can respond to current economic, spiritual and environmental crises. It brings to the fore conversations, relationships and informal networks of learning that are often accorded low status, undervalued or invisible in society.

Rosehips can be made into a tincture right now

On Thursday 13th October, I gave a walking talk in the green spaces around the Garden Museum (the area in front of the museum and Lambeth High Street Recreation Space). All participants introduced themselves by stating their name and a plant that is calling to them at the moment or this year on some level, be that aesthetically, or functionally or intuitively.  We wandered around the spaces looking at the plants listed below. In the Recreation Space we collectively made a tincture with rosehips.

Invisible Food is a project that has been running for over 3 years and trains people to look at their surroundings in different ways, to appreciate the natural environment for its nutritional potential & potential for health and wellbeing.

ABOUT  TAKING: We can take in various ways from nature. We can collect seeds, we can collect leaves and berries. We can dig up roots. We can cut stems to take a cutting.

ABOUT NOT OVERTAKING: In London and indeed everywhere, we have to be very conscious about what we take. We have to take consciously, to not over-take, to not take more than we need, to not take what other creatures need more than us. There are some glorious built-in safeguards in nature to ensure equal distribution, in that some berries are toxic to some species but not to others, so some species’ food supplies are protected. For example, holly berries are toxic to humans – so we can’t eat them – but the birds can eat them throughout the winter without any harm.

ABOUT NOT BEING MECHANICAL WHEN WE TAKE:I’m interested in exploring how not to be mechanical about our interactions with nature. For example, don’t be mechanical about seed collecting. LOOK AFTER the seeds once you’ve collected them. Don’t stuff them in a drawer to go mouldy because you haven’t put them in a suitable paper bag and shaken them regularly. It’s the time and the love you put into them that make a difference. I have a teacher who says to me Always thank the plant. See how that feels.  This is interesting to explore because once the taking becomes mechanical, abuse and exploitation can easily occur. Mining great big gash holes in the earth’s surface, cutting down the rainforest, cutting out our own lung.

ABOUT NOT JUST WORKING WITH PLANTS ON A COGNITIVE LEVEL: It’s really important to not just learn about the plants on a cognitive level. Don’t just read about them, learn about their properties and uses and try to ‘gain knowledge about them’. Develop your intuition with them. Be open to the plants. Try to listen. Be still with the plants. See what comes through.

ABOUT NATURE’S GENEROSITY: Finally, it’s stunningly clear when you think about it but nature really wants to work with us. Nature is so generous in all her leaves, fruits, roots, woods, and nature wants us to take. It’s our gift to nature that we take it with us, in our mobile state. It’s nature’s gift to us that it can root us.

Holly – from midsummer to midwinter when the days grow shorter, the god of the earth and the underworld reclaim the sun. The tree that symbolises this is the holly. Even in the depths of winter we are reminded that life begins again. This is why traditionally we bring evergreen into the house as a reminder of the growing season. Not edible but an important winter plant for decoration, both outdoors where it grows and to bring inside.

Chickweed – soothes inflamed tissue and absorbs impurities from the skin. Eczema. Digestive and lung problems

Sow thistle – young leaves

Dandelion root – allows liver to break down toxins, leaf –  potassium, magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, Vit A. Eat the whole plants, fritter the flowers, caper the buds

Thistle – young stems, peeled and eaten raw, young shoots as greens

Red dead nettle – use flowers as colour contrast in green salad. Use leaves as you would stinging nettle

Cleavers – High in Vit C, calcium, iron.  astringent and diuretic (so good tonic). Can be used by herbalists for tonsillitis, throat infections, cystitis, eczema. Dry seeds substitute for coffee

Nipplewort – young leaves and shoots, best before plant comes into flower

Hawthorn – for the blood, regulating high & low blood pressure, relieves stress, insomnia,all problems of the heart.

Oregon grape – make jelly, root used by herbalists as anti inflammatory, anti bacterial, alternative to Goldenseal

Nettles – stabilise blood sugar, good for kidney cells, soothes the lungs and bronchial tissues, Vitamin K (amongst many other vitamins) prevents bleeding and stimulates breast milk

Black nightshade – collect young pre-flowering plants as greens, avoiding risk of gathering plants with green berries.

Yarrow – good cold remedy reduces fever, Stop bleeding. Aids digestion, anti-inflammatory

Daisy – Vit C, good for coughs and colds. Daisy leaf sandwich Mr Funny

Horseradish – chop up young leaves finely in mashed potato, dig up root to make sauce

Mallow – huge amounts of protein, more than nettle. Anti inflammatory

Rosehips  – cordial. Extremely high in Vit C. Rose petal jelly

The blackberries were so gorgeous in Ruskin Park that we started the walk there this month. We made Blackberry ice cream in an ice cream ball maker and ate it a few metres from the extensive brambles that run alongside the railway line from Denmark Hill to Victoria.

Blackberrying in Ruskin Park

The ice cream ball maker makes ice cream which varies a lot upon outside temperature, shaking frequency, the mix of ingredients, the ice used. We spread out around the pond and passed the ball to each other for around 15 mins to  shake up the mixture. It was extremely tasty, blackberry being the best fruit I’ve tried in it so far. You need 600ml / 1 pint double cream, about 25g / 1oz caster sugar, around 100g / 4oz fruit. Mash up the washed fruit and the sugar, then add the cream. Pack the ice cubes into the container, add rock salt to the gaps around the cubes, this is to ‘enhance the freezing ability’ as it says on the box of the ice cream maker, although doesn’t that seem to contradict the salting of the roads in icy weather. Can someone please enlighten? (Arnaud sent in the answer, see REPLY below)

Mashing the blackberriesRolling the ice cream ball maker around the pond... for 20 minutes ....Scooping out the ice creamAn excellent picnic

We tried mallow / ewedu stew made by John who'd followed the recipe in the London Salad. Delicious!


Plants in Ruskin Park wild life area we looked at:


Ribwort plantain

Wild lettuce

Greater Burdock

Water mint

en route to Max Roach


Sow thistle

Common Lime

In Max Roach


Common Mallow

Bristly ox-tongue

Cat’s Ear

Shepherd’s Purse

Then the plant that was difficult to identify exactly, seemingly fat hen at the back and possibly goosefoot at the front. Here are all possibles

Fat Hen


Good King Henry


Plantain cream for bites and stings

4 tbsp fresh chopped plantain leaves
150 ml boiling water
2 tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil
2 tbsp almond oil
1 tsp beeswax
2 tsp emulsifying wax
2 tsp glycerine
1 tsp vitamin C powder

  1. Wash and chop the plantain leaves. Divide into two – put one half in a bowl and the other half in a pan. Cover the plantain in the bowl with the water and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
  2. In the pan, add the olive (or sunflower) and almond oils to the plantain and heat gently to simmering point. Don’t allow to boil – if it starts boiling, take off the heat immediately. Once at simmering point, remove from the heat and leave for 10 minutes to cool.
  3. Drain the infusion, taking out the plantain leaves. Set the liquid to one side.
  4. Drain the infused oil into another pan, extracting the plantain leaves. Heat the oil again. Add the beeswax and emulsifying wax and melt, stirring – you are aiming for a foamy consistency.
  5. Add 16 tbsp infused water to the pan and whisk to achieve a consistency like salad dressing. Add the glycerine and vitamin C powder.
  6. Pour into sterilized glass pots and seal.

USE: Apply to affected area as often as needed.

STORAGE: Keeps for 3 months in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

 Ash key pickle

One thing to make sure is that you pick your Ash Keys when they are very young, and the small seed within the ‘wing’ has barely developed. You can see the seed if you hold the Ash Key up to the sunlight.


  • 2 cups of Ash Keys without stalks
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • water

Suggested Instructions

  1. Wash your Ash Keys, then place in a pan covered with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain off the water and return to the pan with some fresh water, then bring back to boil and simmer a further 5 minutes.
  3. Drain off the water again, allow to ‘dry’ slightly and then pack into warm dry jars, but allow an inch of space from the top of the jar.
  4. Put the spices, salt and sugar into a bowl and add the vinegar.
  5. Put the bowl into a saucepan (cover it), add some water (not to the bowl but just into the pan) and bring slowly to the boil.  Allow to gently boil for about 5 minutes, then remove the bowl and let it sit for about 4 hours or until it is cold.
  6. Strain the liquid through a muslin or sieve into a jug and pour over the Ash Keys filling the jars right to the brim.
  7. Screw on the tops
  8. Store for 3 months and let the pickle ‘mature’.

Wild herb Jamaican Patties

How to Make: Caribbean Patty Crust (butter version)

The classic Caribbean patty crust is yellow to orange in colour and this colouring is either derived from the oil used to make the patties or from turmeric or annatto seeds.


280g flour
1/2 tsp salt
200g butter (I used goat butter)
240ml cold water
1 tsp ground turmeric or 1/2 tsp Jamaican curry powder or 1/2 tsp ground annatto seeds
120ml milk for brushing (I used coconut oil)

Caribbean Patty Crust Preparation:


Sift together the flour, turmeric (or colouring) and salt into a bowl. Cube the butter then add to the flour mix and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine meal. Add just enough water to bind the mixture as a firm dough. Turn onto a lightly-floured surface and knead for a few minutes, or until elastic.

Roll the dough out to about 3mm thick then cut into rounds about 15cm in diameter (use a plate as a template). Traditionally these are filled with a whole range of meat or vegetable-based fillings, are folded into half-moon shapes, sealed, glazed with milk then baked in an oven pre-heated to 220°C for about 20 minutes, or until golden.

If you want a crumblier pastry then when you roll the pastry out, melt some lard, brush this on top of the pastry, fold over then roll out again. Repeat this process of rolling, brushing, folding and rolling 4 times in all. This way you will get a layered pastry that will puff up and become crumbly during baking.

And here’s the chickweed pesto recipe.

Today, we walked from Brockwell Park to Clapham Common, probably about 6 miles, through the backstreets of Tulse Hill, Brixton, Clapham, looking for wild food in Brockwell Park, in people’s gardens, in the cracks in pavements, up high in overhanging trees. We saw:

  • an amazing shrubby common mallow at the Cressingham Gardens estate exit from Brockwell Park. We collected mallow flowers and ate the mallow flower cake I’d made earlier.
  • gorgeous figs starting to get plump growing from the grounds of a nursery on Elm park, near Brixton Hill.
  • a Lavatera Arborea which I mistook for Hollyhocks but Nikki put me right. It’s a tree mallow.

Tree mallow

  • Cleavers seeds, almost ready to be picked for drying, roasting, grinding and making into a hot drink. We picked some but they have green undersides. Not quite ready.
  • Lush nasturiums which I almost consider to be wild, because they are the only thing I can grow successfully, other than hairy bittercress, nettle, euphorbia and dandelion. They were used as a replacement for pepper corns during rationing in the second world war. Also make a vinegar with them. Or by now, the almost famous, Nasturtium Ata sauce.
  • Quiet streets on a 30 degrees sunny day sunday. We walked through the empty streets of south west london. Until we got to Clapham Common which was like Posto 9, Ipanema at the height of a Brazilian summer, not a speck of grass to be seen. We didn’t actually venture in the the park. The streets, pavements, and window boxes had been peaceful enough for us and our scootering participants.
  • Oregon grape, not much of it today, although it is everywhere, I want to make jelly with it. It’s now juicy and blood drippingly purple.

Oregon Grape

  • Masses of white clover, some a full head of hair, some with the lower petals drying and drooping, some totally dried and buckled. We picked some to dry, and sprout. Clover has the following nutritional content.
30% protein
Vitamins A, B, C, E
  Calcium,Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc


Thanks to Pat, Arnaud and children, and Nikki for making it. Here are some recipes, in French, and why not.

La mauve (Khoubiza ou bekkoula)

Teneur en protéines : 7,2 g/100 g
Nom latin : Malva sylvestris
Famille : Malvacées
Noms vernaculaires : Grande mauve – Mauve sauvage – Fausse guimauve.

La mauve est une grande plante herbacée bisannuelle de 30 cm à 1,20 m de haut,
à fine racine pivotante et à tige ronde en partie dressée et velue, rayonnante à partir
du pied central. Les larges feuilles vertes arrondies longuement pétiolées,
palmilobées et dentées, sont également recouvertes d’un duvet velouté
(caractéristique de nombreuses plantes à mucilage). Les fleurs, apparaissant à
l’aisselle des feuilles, à 5 pétales écartés (étroits à la base et échancrés au sommet)
et aux nombreuses étamines, sont grandes d’un très beau mauve pourpré veiné de
rouge. Les fruits sont des polyakènes ronds un peu aplatis (souvent appelés
“fromages” ou “fromageons”).

Plante commune dans toutes les régions tempérées d’Europe, d’Afrique du nord et
d’Asie occidentale, où elle pousse le long des murs et des chemins, dans les terrains
vagues, les prés, les champs et les terres de culture enrichies en azote, jusqu’à
1.500 m d’altitude.


La fleur et la feuille de mauve possèdent surtout des propriétés :

• béchique ;
• émolliente et adoucissante des voies respiratoires ;
• laxative et calmante des douleurs inflammatoires du côlon.

Actuellement, la mauve est principalement utilisée :

1) En général :

• Pour combattre la toux en général.

2) En particulier :

• Sphère respiratoire : Pharyngite – Laryngite – Enrouement – Extinction de voix – Trachéite –
Affections broncho-pulmonaires dans leur ensemble et plus particulièrement la bronchite aiguë, la
bronchite chronique et les pneumopathies virales).

• Sphère digestive : Constipation fonctionnelle – Douleurs colitiques.


— La forme habituelle d’administration de la mauve en phytothérapie contemporaine est la poudre totale
sèche (micronisée, et de préférence cryobroyée) en gélules, qui représente le totum végétal de la fleur et de la feuille dans toute leur intégrité et toute leur intégralité.

— Elle peut aussi être prise sous forme de décoction (faire bouillir 30 g de fleurs et feuilles séchées dans un litre d’eau pendant 5 minutes et filtrer) ; et sous forme d’infusion (faire infuser 50 g de fleurs et feuilles séchées dans un litre d’eau bouillante pendant 15 mn et filtrer ; ou, pour plus de facilité, en utilisant les sachets-doses prêts à l’emploi de certaines spécialités pharmaceutiques.

— Elle est également utilisée dans de nombreuses préparations magistrales associant diverses autres plantes complémentaires (sous forme de décoctions et d’infusions composées, mais surtout aujourd’hui sous forme de mélanges de poudres totales en gélules) choisies et prescrites en fonction de chaque malade par les médecins phytothérapeutes.

La mauve : déjà très connue des anciens qui y recouraient pour calmer la toux et lutter contre la constipation (très efficace). On la recommande pour toutes les inflammations et irritations des voies respiratoires et intestinales. Peut aussi aider dans les cures d’amaigrissement (en décoction, deux poignées de feuilles dans un litre d’eau). L’infusion se prépare avec une poignées de feuilles par litre d’eau bouillante.
Prenez deux tasses par jour ou plus si besoin.

Les fleurs ou les feuilles de la mauve sauvage, ou grande mauve,se récoltent en juin et juillet, fraîches
et exemptés de rouille. L’infusion es recommandé en cas de toux sèches, bronchite aiguë et comme laxatif léger. En bain de bouche ou en gargarisme, elle guérit les inflammations de la gorge et de la bouche, notamment les aphtes.

La plante entière et en particulier la racine , est très riche en mucilages calmants et adoucissants qui favorisent la cicatrisation des inflammations internes, des lésions des muqueuses et des ulcères de l’estomac. L’infusion se prépare avec deux cuillerées à café de plantes qu’on laisse macérer dans une tasse d’eau tièdes pendant 5 à 10 heures en remuant de temps à autre. Mélangée à la racine de primevère, la grande mauve donne une tisane expectorante et anti-inflammatoire qui a de bons résultat contre la toux des enfants.

En cas de constipation chronique et de douleurs des intestins, préparer une décoction associant à la mauve sauvage, avec ses racines, et des semences de fenouil et d’anis. Un remède de bonne femme bien connu pour tonifier les intestins et soigner les ulcères intestinaux consistait en une soupe d’orge et de feuilles de grande mauve.

On consommait aussi la plante bouillie dans du lait comme traitement de la phtisie et des ulcérations de l’estomac.

En usage externe,on appliquait des cataplasmes de plante fraîche sur les abcès, les furoncles ou les tumeurs.

L’asthme, la coqueluche ou les inflammations de la gorge ont été traitées pendant longtemps avec des inhalations d’infusion de fleurs de mauve sauvage, de sureau et de camomille et de feuilles de séné additionnés de sels ammoniacaux. On utilisait aussi les vapeurs chaudes de fleurs de grande mauve pour guérir les affections de l’oreille.

Les Egyptiens, les Grecs, les Romains et les chinois consommaient des feuilles de mauve en salade ou en légumes, mais Pythagore et ses disciples considéraient la plante comme sacrée. Les Anglo-Saxons la cultivait pour s’en nourrir et leurs enfants étaient très friands de ses fruits, appelés”fromage”, auxquels la plante doit ses noms vulgaires d’ herbes-à-fromage ou de fromageon. En Angleterre, on avait coutume de planter de la mauve autour des tombes et de se servir de sa fibre pour tisser des étoffes. En Hongrie, les femmes utilisaient la racine comme abortif: l’usage voulait qu’on enterre des feuilles de cette plante sous la porte des étables de façon a empêcher les sorcières de venir y dérober du lait. Au moyen Age, en Silésie, quand on voulait savoir si une femme était ou non féconde, on versait de son urine sur le plant de mauve : si l’herbe dépérissait dans les trois jours, cela voulait dire que le sujet était stérile.

Salade de mauve à la marocaine



1 bouquet de mauve (Bakkoula)
1 bol de Persil et de coriandre hachés
6 gousses d’ail
1 verre d’huile d’olive
1 citron confit
1 c.à.s. de cumin
1 c.à.s. de Paprika
Piment fort (selon votre gout)
olives rouges

Préparation :

Lavez la mauve, nettoyer-la et égouttez-la bien puis hachez-la.
Faite-la cuire à la vapeur avec l’ail haché pendant 15 minutes.
Une fois cuite,mettez-la dans une marmite et faite chauffer à feu doux, rajoutez l’huile d’olive , la chair et l’écorce d’un demi citron confit coupé en dés,,ainsi que les épices.
Laissez mijoter le tous en remuant sans cesse pour éviter que la mauve n’attache.
quelque minutes avant d’ôter la mauve du feu, rajoutez les olives et parsemez de Persil et de coriandre .
Servez la mauve décoré avec de fines lamelles de citron confit.

Cake à la mauve et noisettes


150 g de farine
50 de noisettes en poudre
70 g de sucre
100 g de lait ribot
30 g d’huile de noisette
20 g de noisettes entières
3 œufs
2 càs de fleurs de mauves séchées
2 càc de levure chimique

Mélanger les ingrédients secs farine, poudre de noisettes et levure.
Ajouter les œufs. Bien mélanger. Ajouter alors le lait ribot, le sucre, et l’huile. Finissez par les fleurs et enfin les noisettes.
Beurrer et fariner un moule à cake et enfourner dans un four préchauffé à 180° pendant 40 minutes.


It was intermittently raining and shining and we had a glorious crowd of walkers who are happy in the wet. We stayed at the centre for a while at the beginning for introductions and a reminder about the skillshare aspect of the outing; that I’m not an expert, that we are all learning, that we carry around books with us to delve into for .possible enlightenment or further questioning. I mentioned that I always play it safe as a forager with groups of people, only working with plants that there is little or no risk in confusing with poisonous plants. As I learn more, I realise that even plants that I’m confident about could be confused by someone else, so we looked at a few such plants, during a wonderful revisit to Wyck Gardens, with new eyes and some new plants spied in all the wet summer lushness.

A great crowd as ever and we started the day with discussion of the elements of the Centre for Alternative Technology’s Zero Carbon Britain report. We all took some element of the report which was either a ‘Power down’ factor (energy use needing to be reduced by 50%) or a ‘Power up’ factor, (where the energy we do need for well being is going to come from sustainably).

Power down:

  • All new buildings must be built to zero carbon specifications
  •  We need to renovate 20 million homes in 20 years. This is called ‘retro-fit’ and represents the largest decrease in emissions.
  •  Change fuels for cars from fossil fuels to electric vehicles
  •  Make everything more local so people need to travel less (work, school, shopping, leisure, holidays)
  •  Reduce the use of the private car by vastly improving public transport, walking and cycleway systems.
  •  Get goods back on the rails. There is plenty of capacity on the rails at night.
  •  Domestic and European flights are replaced by high speed electric train network
  •  Long haul flights is reduced to one third of current levels
  •  Hydrogen and british grown biofuels (made from wood not food crops) for heavy goods vehicles that can’t be run on batteries.
  •  Animal production for food is reduced but this creates more land for overall food production because less land if required to grow feed for animals.  Food security is improved
  •  Diet and health is improved as people eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. There are still animal foods available, particularly from animals that don’t feed on grass like pigs, and chickens. One third of dietary protein would still come from livestock products
  •  Britain would become self sufficient in essentials but would still import ‘luxury’ products such as olives, wine, coffee, chocolate and bananas.

 Power up – renewable energy

  •  Britain is a wind swept country. Half the energy we need can be captured from 195 giga watts of off shore windfarms and the rest can be harvested from a mix of other renewable (solar, on shore wind, tidal, hydro, biomass, biochar.)
  •  Nuclear generators will be used until the end of their lives but no new ones would be built.
  •  Energy generation will have to happen on all levels, from gigantic offshore wind farms to micro generators like solar panels on our homes.
  •  Smart grids can predict and control demand (eg charging cars when there is excess power) so there is no break in energy provision and the lights don’t go out!
  •  There will be back up from energy stored in batteries and also backup generators using UK grown biofuels (made from wood, not food crops)

 We all took one slip of paper with one factor on it and decided whether it was Power up or Power Down, then we gathered with all the other people having the same kind of Power, talked about the information with our group, then with the opposite group. The aim of this was to further familiarise ourselves with the arguments and data around sustainable energy so we don’t get left behind with the debate and also to be able to make a difference. CAT suggest getting in touch with your MP to ask them to read the report. You can lobby your MP to sign Early Day Motion 853 which calls for Zero Carbon Britain by 2030.  To lobby your MP using the Campaign for Climate Change’s information hub see here.

Available here is the Zero Carbon Britain 2030 Report produced by the Centre for Alternative Technology, (CAT) which outlines a practical, well researched plan for reaching a zero carbon economy by 2030. To order free 8-page ZCB 2030 pamphlets, or find out about ZCB training days e-mail bruce.heagerty[at] with ‘Zero Carbon Britain Day’ in the subject line.

OK, onto the plants. We looked at chickweed, to not confuse with Sun spurge (euphorbia), we looked at Sow thistle, at lovely St Johns wort, and Fat Hen and Good king Henry growing right next to a similar looking but poisonous Black nightshade


Text from the handout on the day


Net global emissions of greenhouse gases must be reduced to zero as fast as possible and this should be the overriding goal of the entire global community acting together through a fair and binding international climate treaty.  

Within this context some sections of the global community have a greater responsibility to reduce emissions more and faster than others. The United Kingdom belongs to the richer developed part of the world with a high per capita level of greenhouse gas emissions and, as the pioneer of the Industrial Revolution, an enormous historical carbon footprint. We believe that the UK can and should do its fair share to reduce global emissions and be prepared if necessary to lead the way. 

Given the immensity of the threat we face from  the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate, the time lost already in addressing this threat and the uncertainties around, for instance, positive feedback processes and ‘tipping points’, no target can be said to be entirely ‘safe’. At the same time while justice demands that we do our ‘fair share’ our national security demands that we do not only that, but enough to persuade the entire global community to act decisively with us.

In this context we are calling for a target of around zero net carbon, and zero net greenhouse gas, emissions by 2030. We cannot be one hundred percent sure this will be enough to forestall catastrophe and nor will it be easy but we are certain that with the political will and a great deal of urgency and determination it is possible. And it will bring a great number of other benefits besides giving us a fighting chance in the battle against climate catastrophe.

ImageThe Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales has been working through its Zero Carbon Britain Project on a strategy for rapid decarbonisation of the British economy for many years. Last year it published its latest report “Zero Carbon Britian 2030” which outlined in meticulously researched detail how Britain might reduce its emissions to  zero by 2030. This is just one possible way and there will be much disagreement and discussion over many of the details but the report serves magnificently well the purpose of demonstrating that it is possiible. Half hearted attempts or opportunistic tinkering will not do it but with bold, radical and far sighted strategies – we can.

Invisible Food is a skill share. We operate without an expert to increase our  skills, resilience and self-reliance. We act safely, responsibly, exercising common sense, self-help, and helping each other with respect and tolerance.

With the complexity of the EU Ban on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products, I wanted to get someone to come and talk to us to get us up to speed on a complex legal issue. I haven’t found that person yet so in the meantime, and with the above in mind,  let’s work with our questions and concerns to raise our awareness ourselves and prick up our critical antennae.

As an exercise, write down your questions surrounding the following statements. Please get in touch with your questions and concerns.  We are planning a project to increase the number of medicinal herbs available to us. Contact us if you are interested in participating!

The EU directive, called the THMPD (Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive) seeks to not just ban the use of herbal remedies but to actually criminalize them — making the growing or keeping of herbs for use in teas just as illegal as those for less conventional use.  Does this mean keeping herbs in your garden for personal use would be illegal?

What else do you want to know about this?

The use of traditional and herbal remedies has already been banned in Canada.

What else do you want to know about this?

“Herbal remedies are used throughout the world and have been in use since the beginning of history. This is what the witchhunts were about. How many women were killed during the witchhunt? Power is trying to obliterate our connection with the earth.”

What else do you want to know about this?

The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) is at the forefront of a massive effort to stop what they deem ‘this unprecedented attack’ on the rights of patients. The ANH is taking legal action against this directive, with the assistance of the European Benefyt Foundation (EBF).

Between them they have already managed to raise 90,000 pounds to fight the court case, but they’re requesting your help, too. Because, they say, if people don’t cry out in protest, it will be seen as agreement of the ban, or as lack of interest, which is why a citizens action group has been formed and has been circulating a petition to counter the THMPD Directive.

What else do you want to know about this?

The EU Directive erects high barriers to any herbal remedy that hasn’t been on the market for 30 years — including virtually all Chinese, Ayurvedic, and African traditional medicine. It’s a draconian move that helps drug companies and ignores thousands of years of medical knowledge.

It’s hard to believe, but if a child is sick, and there is a safe and natural herbal remedy for that illness, it may be impossible to find that remedy.

What else do you want to know about this?

The EU directive, called the THMPD (Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive) will create major barriers to manufactured herbal remedies, requiring enormous costs,and years of effort. Each herb will cost around £80,000 to register. Pharmaceutical companies have the resources to jump through these hoops but hundreds of small- and medium-sized herbal medicine businesses, across Europe and worldwide, will go bust.

What else do you want to know about this?

There are arguments for better regulation of natural medicine, but this draconian directive harms the ability of Europeans to make safe and healthy choices. Let’s stand up for our health, and our right to choose safe herbal medicine.

Dr. Robert Verkerk, executive and scientific director of the UK-based Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) – an NGO promoting natural remedies – said: “At the end of April we plan to challenge the directive first of all in the High Court in London, on the grounds that it is disproportionate, non-transparent and discriminatory. We then hope to have the case referred to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.”

What else do you want to know about this?

Dr. Robert Verkerk, executive and scientific director of the UK-based Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) – an NGO promoting natural remedies – said: countries such as the Czech Republic and the Netherlands were adopting a liberal approach to implementation which meant that many herbal remedies could be construed as ordinary foodstuffs and thus escape regulation. Think about garlic capsules. This could be seen as foodstuff.

He added that other states, notably the UK and Belgium, were approaching the directive more vigorously, outlawing many more unregistered herbal remedies.

What else do you want to know about this?

The EU Directive erects high barriers to any herbal remedy that hasn’t been on the market for 30 years — including virtually all Chinese, Ayurvedic, and African traditional medicine. It’s a draconian move that helps drug companies and ignores thousands of years of medical knowledge.

What else do you want to know about this?

Examples of remedies threatened following the expiry of the deadline include traditional European herbal cures using hawthorn and meadowsweet in addition to a swathe of herbs used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic, Chinese and Amazonian remedies.

Dr Robert Verkerk said: “The problem is that [synthetic chemical ingredients] are deemed necessary by formulators in order to meet the pharmaceutical stability standards set by the EU directive. Forcing non-European herbal traditions into a European straitjacket would effectively corrupt these great traditions.”

If the ban is allowed to take effect, the ANH says it will effectively eliminate access to phytotherapy, herbalism and all of the traditional plant-based remedies of Indian, Amazonian, African and Chinese cultures. In a very real sense, then, this could also be seen a a cultural attack on specific ethnic groups and ways of life.

What else do you want to know about this?

“A new, more appropriate and affordable system of quality control is urgently required to prevent discrimination against the long-standing traditions, and this is something we aim to push for through our planned judicial review,” Verkerk said. 

On the other hand, proponents of the ban claim they are attempting to protect the naive from shoddily produced ‘snake-oil’ elixirs and medicines. They claim that herbal remedies will still be available but that they will simply be safer.

What else do you want to know about this?

In France a petition against the directive has been launched by a group of natural remedy stakeholders calling itself ‘Le Collectif pour la Défense de la Médecine Naturelle’. It states the directive imposes a disproportionately costly administrative burden on numerous natural remedies which have existed in Europe for centuries and are not dangerous. A spokesperson for Le Collectif pour la Défense de la Médecine Naturelle said: “If charlatans exist within the sector, that does not justify the persecution of those who rely on numerous producers of plant-based alternative therapies. This type of vigilance will only benefit those who are able to verify that their medicaments are manufactured using certain petrochemical compounds, from which the side effects are incontestably worse.”

What else do you want to know about this?

” This is not just about herbal medicine. Big corporations are gaining control over every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat, to the electricity we need in our homes, to our leisure activities and the way we communicate with our fellow human beings.”

What else do you want to know about this?

 This following article deals specifically with the situation for Chinese herbalists.

Traditional Chinese medicine firms may face delisting in EU market

The European Union released the “Registration Process Order of Traditional Herbal Medicine” in March 2004 and required enterprises that want to remain in the E.U. market to meet registration standards by March 31, 2011. This order has set a “seven-year limit” for herbal medicine that was imported in the name of food, health care products and even agricultural and sideline native products.

Unfortunately, no Chinese enterprise has completed the registration before the deadline. This also indicates that after missing the seven-year transitional period, traditional Chinese medicine may face the risk of delisting in the E.U. market.

Why did domestic traditional Chinese medicine producers give up the opportunity to apply for the access to the European market? Guo Guiqin, deputy general manager of China Beijing Tongrentang Group Company, said that the main reason is that the registration application fees, particularly the intermediary fees, are too high to afford.

Furthermore, an application standard stipulates that related herbal drug products must already be in medicinal use in the European Union for a period of 15 years preceding the date of the application.

Although traditional Chinese medicine products entered into the E.U. market as early as 1995, domestic traditional Chinese medicine producers regrettably lacked the sense of self-protection and neglected to keep product sales records. Even domestic time-honored producers such as Tongrentang cannot provide evidence to prove that their products have been available on the markets of E.U. members for 15 years.

Although traditional Chinese medicine is very popular in Southeast Asia, traditional Chinese medicine products have often been locked outside of other overseas markets, such as the European Union. It is still possible for traditional Chinese medicine producers to export products to the European Union in the future.

In the long run, however, China’s traditional Chinese medicine industry must follow international practice in terms of product production, processing and distribution to really expand the international market.


Planting fruit and nut trees in Elam Street space April 20th 2011

Grove Adventure Playground and Invisible Food, are celebrating the launch of the RHS Britain in Bloom and RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood campaigns,by rolling up their sleeves to be part of a tree planting movement to double native trees and woods in the UK.

This year, RHS Britain in Bloom has teamed up with the Woodland Trust to giveaway up to 200,000 free tree saplings to be planted by communities across the UK. Both the RHS and the Woodland Trust are supporting the United Nation’s 2011 International Year of Forests to raise awareness of conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and recognise the benefits trees bring to our wildlife and communities.

Grove Adventure Playground children, supported by Lambeth Parks and Invisible Food volunteers will be planting at Elam Street Space on Wednesday 20th April between 3 and 5pm.

Ceri Buck, of local wild food group Invisible Food said “The children will be planting wild fruit and nut saplings that they will see grow into beautiful food-giving trees as they grow older. Parents are also invited to help plant the trees. The more the local community is involved in creating our green spaces, the safer and more well kept they will be.”

Children will also learn about the Green belt movement in Kenya, founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, which plants trees to create better communities, to increase self-determination, equity, improved livelihoods, security, and environmental conservation.  This is Wangari’s message to young people around the world,

“I want young people to know that despite the challenges and constraints they face, there is hope. I want to encourage them to serve the common good. My experiences have taught me that service to others has its own special rewards. I also have a lot of hope in youth. Their minds do not have to be held back by old thinking about the environment. And you don’t have to be rich or give up everything to become active. Respect nature, treat her with dignity, give back as much as we take away” 

Wangari Maathai planting a tree in Kenya

Stephanie Eynon, Community Horticulture Manager, RHS, said, “RHS Britain in Bloom and RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood enables people to join together to improve their local communities and restore civic pride through long-term, sustainable projects which are also beneficial for wildlife. We are delighted to be partnering with the Woodland Trust in order to focus this year’s launch on trees.”

Event details

Wednesday 20th April 2011

Elam Street Space, SE5    3 – 5pm


Contact Ceri Buck, Invisible Food

07963 446605 or

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