Have you ever foraged for food? Until recently, the only time I put the words ‘foraging’ and ‘food’ together was while raiding the fridge for a hopefully-forgotten wedge of brie. Yet, thanks to a health professional’s advice, I now forage for food every single day.
The health professional was a vet. I forage for seed for my budgie.
A year ago, I took him to a specialist vet as we were fearful for his health; indeed for his life.
It seems that Chippy was suffering the very modern phenomena of being overweight. Sure, he only weighed 50 grams but compared to his ideal weight of 35, that’s a lot of extra padding to fly around with.
The culprit was supermarket seed. My bad; I now know that I was feeding Chippy the human equivalent of fast food when he was genetically designed to feast on salad.
A budgie’s equivalent of salad is fresh grass seed. Compared with processed dry seed, the effort it takes to extract the kernel of goodness from within means Chippy is far less likely to overeat.
I’ve come to realise it’s the difference between humans shelling each freshly caught prawn as opposed to eating a huge dish of them cooked in oil and slathered with a creamy sauce.
So now, on my daily walk, I keep my eyes to the ground in search of grass that is in seed.
As I stop and stoop to inspect and select grass seed, I wonder what passers-by think. Astoundingly, I’ve only had passers-by ask what I am doing twice.
Perhaps this is because this region is full of eccentricity, it being nothing to come across a naked beach yoga session or to wave to the man whose street busking routine is a never-fails-to-cheer-you-up hula hoop with pineapple shakers number.
Meeting the needs of my budgie has softened my attitude to what I would previously have considered weeds in my own garden. I now leave a few pockets untouched so it can provide the food my pet needs.
My foraging efforts may never find a home on the Scandi-chic tables of NOMA or our local equivalent, Harvest, but they do find their way into the seed tray of our budgie and, thanks to him being healthy and chirpy once more, that’s good enough for me.
Vivienne Pearson is a freelance writer whose writing lives at viviennepearson.com