Growing up in Boy Scouts, I was raised on the Leave No Trace (LNT) outdoors philosophy. The goal is simple: when you go hiking, camping or any other outdoor pursuit, you should leave the environment exactly (if not better) than you found it. This philosophy is valuable for a number of reasons, but the primary one is obvious: when you leave an area pristine, the next individual can come along and enjoy it just like you did. It's a solid philosophy, and one that I'm glad to follow. So much so, that even the thought of plucking a common wild edible just seems wrong.
There is, however, another way to embrace the outdoors (OK, there are tons of ways) and that is through Bushcrafting. With LNT, you're an observer in nature, standing on the sidelines taking it all in. With Bushcrafting, however, you're a participant actually using the natural resources in front of you. You're not just watching nature, you're part of nature.
When you make this transition, there's suddenly a whole swath of information that's useful, if not essential to know. For example, understanding the different types of trees and plants isn't just an exercise in identification, it's genuinely useful in eating and living better outdoors. Another example: when you can quickly whip up cooking utensils form the materials around you, it's that much less you need to pack in.
Bushcrafting, like any other pursuit, can be good and it can be evil. Spend anytime on YouTube and you'll see people haphazardly testing hatches without giving any thought to the damage they are doing to the trees around them. On the other hand, there are those who tread carefully and show that humans can actually play an import role in living within an environment. One such individual is MCQ Bushcraft, who's video Solo Five Day Hunting & Bushcraft really got me appreciating what Bushcraft has to offer.
MCQ, in my opinion, shows Bushcraft at it's best: a fun and useful way to connect to the outdoors and make life out there more pleasant. He demonstrates a number of key skills, like finding wild edibles and cooking over an open fire, all the while without getting hung up on procedural details (for some Bushcraft means that all your gear needs to be old school: think lots of canvas and a big 'ol axe. MCQ, uses a Cordora and other modern materials, and makes do quite well with a knife and folding saw). It doesn't hurt that his video is quite well produced, and more watchable than many 'survival' TV shows out there. (And he's got that authoritarian, yet soothing British accent going, too.)
Anyway, check out this particular video below as well as the others he has created (his Slingshot Squirrel Hunting video is also a terrific one to watch, albeit a bit bloody. Still, definitely worth it if you eat meat.)
I'm not dragging an axe into the woods any time soon, but I'm definitely going to look for ways to include some of the Bushcraft philosophy in my outdoor adventures.
Worth a follow: www.mcqbushcraft.co.uk.