It’s a little known but reassuringly archaic fact that under English common law you can normally pick the “Four F’s” if growing wild – fruit, fungi, flowers and foliage, for non-commercial use, anywhere where you can legally go.
It’s a nice law, and the Ranger thinks it a proper law – after all, the picking of such things is pleasant, and encourages people to enjoy their environment and remember where things come from. But can you imagine the chances of introducing such a right now, if it didn’t already exist? The braying of defiance from landowners would be almost equalled by the massed reedy whines of the environmentalists – until both were brushed aside by the behemoth of public health and safety. Surely we could not permit people – perhaps even children – to just go up to things in the countryside and pick them? Maybe even to eat them! What if the fruit were dirty? Diseased? Infected? Poisonous? A filthy, unclean, unwholesome thing from the earth? Who could be sued if a child were hurt? Who would take the blame? Better perhaps that we take our fun in digital form, and our nutrition from clean, packaged fare safely obtained from a reputable retailer.