Lately I have been giving a whole lot of thought to the concept of improving your harvest. Whether that be through the use of tools, or in quickness of gathering. I personally as a practice use minimal tools for harvest, but a few things are handy this time of year. One of them is the berry bucket. Berry buckets (or blickey) are essentially a container that hangs around your neck or are strapped around your waste so that you can harvest berries with both hands, making berry gathering quite literally twice as fast. Ever since finding out about this wonderful tool I never go a summer without one in my car at all times(You never know when you'll come across the promised land of blueberries)! You can see here I have posted links to two examples of Blickeys you can buy. My personal approach however is to make one out of materials at hand, thus saving money and giving my container my own personal touch. My berry bucket of choice is literally an old yogurt container(one of the big guys) that has a large rope attached to it on either side so that I can hang it around my neck.
Now as far as becoming a faster forager goes, I think this boils down to three main things:
1. How fast you are actually moving.
2. What kind of containers, tools, etc. you are working with.
3. Whether or not you are in an area that is actually able to provide you with an ample amount of what you are picking.
Numbers 1 and 2 are great but they are almost pointless if you are in an area that is poor in availability of harvest-able food. You need to know when to say "Ok I'm moving on from here". Staying in a place because you drove there and you made the decision to forage there makes no sense at all if the harvest is poor.
Here is a real life example from just the other day. I went Hazelnutting(not sure if that word is real or not but I am going with it) on Tuesday and it was largely a giant flop of a year. Hardly any of the bushes had any nuts on them at all. That being said, my hazelnut spot is HUGE. I could have meticulously looked on every available bush in one area and possibly eked out a few handfuls, but I just kept on walking and looking for bushes that may have had a more abundant year as far as producing nuts goes. My walking around brought me to a spot, that while not exactly a bumper crop, had bushes with enough nuts to make my trip worth it.
Foraging effectively is putting laziness to use. It may look and seem like it is a hard thing to do, and sure there is a learning curve you must go through, but foraging is the laziest way you can possibly get calories into your diet. The Hunter-Gatherer life that comprised 95% of human existence(and still happens in some parts of the world), wasn't that way because people didn't know about putting seeds in the ground, it was that way because its a highly successful strategy for staying alive with little to no actual work. A 40 hour work week would have been unthinkable to a Hunter-Gatherer! For more info on that go I highly suggest reading the book below.
The reason that foraging must be lazy and it must be efficient is due to a real simple principle of every animal; you cannot use more calories than you gain. Only if you are trying to lose weight should you ever expend more calories than you can bring in. In fact if anyone here has seen "Naked and Afraid" you can see the prospects of what happens to people that expend more calories than they bring in.
So you must find a way to make calories gathered greater than calories expended. Walk more efficiently, don't mouth-breathe, snack along the way on edible stuff. Basically, do everything in your power to make yourself a faster and more efficient forager if you are truly serious about making foraging a part of your diet. But I should also say, don't think of it as a job, or you will start to resent it. Foraging is great exercise and a great way to get "Shinrin-Yoku". Enjoy being in the presence of such beauty.
I explore a lot of these concepts on my plant walks, please feel free to go to my events page and check out any classes you can make it out to. I would love to have you!