Wild food plant use in 21st century Europe: the disappearance of old traditions and the search for new cuisines involving wild edibles

Łukasz Łuczaj, Andrea Pieroni, Javier Tardío, Manuel Pardo-de-Santayana, Renata Sõukand, Ingvar Svanberg, Raivo Kalle


The aim of this review is to present an overview of changes in the contemporary use of wild food plants in Europe, mainly using the examples of our home countries: Poland, Italy, Spain, Estonia and Sweden. We set the scene referring to the nutrition of 19th century peasants, involving many famine and emergency foods. Later we discuss such issues as children's wild snacks, the association between the decline of plant knowledge and the disappearance of plant use, the effects of over-exploitation, the decrease of the availability of plants due to ecosystem changes, land access rights for foragers and intoxication dangers. We also describe the 20th and 21st century vogues in wild plant use, particularly their shift into the domain of haute-cuisine.


wild edible plants; famine; food security; culinary vogues; habitat transformations ; ethnobotany

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5586/asbp.2012.031

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