Zeki was one of a number of speakers on outdoor, wildlife and foraging themes. The programme also featured Prof. Dave Goulson of Sussex University, one of the UK’s leading conservationists who specialises in the ecology and conservation of insects, particular bumblebees. He spoke about the decline in their numbers – “part of a pattern for insects, symptomatic of broader environmental damage that threatens our future wellbeing; the fate of humans and insects is inextricably linked.”
Eva Gunnare described the plants of Swedish Lapland and the great ranges of uses they have traditionally been put to. She spoke about foraging in summer for Arctic herbs and berries and blending traditional recipes with modern creations. There were more insights and flavours from Sweden when baker Karin Jonsson joined Stronsay forager Marion Miller and chef and food writer Wendy Barrie to look at ways in which food from the wild can be used in Swedish style to enhance our baking. Ben Reade of Edinburgh Food Studio brought some wonderful tasters as he described how some of the most appetising dishes can come food we find at our feet. He described the possibilities of seaweeds, shellfish and common garden weeds, and fermented foods with simple ingredients transformed by wild microorganisms.
Martin Gray, who runs the Orkney Beachcombing page, described the wealth of treasures that wash up on an Orkney shore and the searching and foraging quest that has taken Orcadians to the shore since Neolithic times and before. A beaver-chewed timber from North America, a sea heart. from the rain forests of the southern Caribbean, a skate’s egg case, a lump of paraffin wax, a lobster creel tag from Newfoundland ….