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The use of wild plants as food in pre-industrial Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
2012 (English)In: Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae, ISSN 0001-6977, Vol. 81, no 4, 317-327 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper is a review of the actual gathering and use of wild edible plants in the 18th and 19th centuries, with a brief concluding discussion on the present day use of wild plants as food within Sweden. The peasants and the nomads in pre-industrial Sweden utilised very few wild plant taxa as food. Many even despised the wild fruits and green plants. Some plants and fruits were earlier mostly eaten fresh on the spot, or gathered for consumption in bread, gruel or soup. Other fruits were dried or preserved in other ways. In times of food shortages the amount of wild plants increased in the diet, but still the peasantry and nomads were often able to use fish and game to provide enough nutrients. With access to cheap sugar in the early 20th century wild fruits (Vaccinium myrtillus L., V. vitis-idaea L., and Rubus chamaemorus L.) increased in importance, especially among urban-dwellers and within food industry. In the last few decades fungi have also become part of the urban diet. Fifty years ago working class people gathered only Cantharellus cibarius (Fr.) and occasionally Boletus edulis Bull. Nowadays more taxa are utilised within the Swedish households, and especially the easy to pick Cantharellus tubaeformis (Pers.) has become very popular recently. Harvesting fruits and mushrooms in the forests is a popular pastime for many urban people, but also a source of income for immigrants and especially foreign seasonal labour. The only traditional green wild food plant that is regularly eaten in contemporary Sweden is Urtica dioica L.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 81, no 4, 317-327 p.
Keyword [en]
ethnobiology, plant gathering, wild food plants, famine food
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-193715DOI: 10.5586/asbp.2012.039ISI: 000312895300010OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-193715DiVA: diva2:603524
Available from: 2013-02-06 Created: 2013-02-06 Last updated: 2013-02-06Bibliographically approved

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Svanberg, Ingvar
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