After hearing that the credit crunch is about to bite even harder, I tried to think what on earth we all did in that other "worst time" that Alistair Darling was talking about.
A government survey reveals that a remarkable 20 per cent of those on low incomes forage for food, and 60 years ago it was nearer to 55 per cent.
So, if it's time to ditch the foie gras and hand-reared Chardonnay, are there free things out there that hardy souls can look forward to enjoying?
Our youngest son said he'd heard of groups of Chinese waiters catching crayfish in the Thames by the bucketload (normal price:s18 per kilogram). Why not follow their lead and use a bit of string with some bacon attached to it to try lure the crusty creatures to land? Although there are licensing laws around...
Making coffee out of acorns
Bake the acorns and grind them up and use them like coffee powder or as flour - an old war-time recipe
I caught these fish at a cheap fisherie near Alberry in Surrey. It's s10 a day and a bit extra each fish. I used a dry fly called a Merry Bumble. Call 01483 202 323.
I'd had a tip-off that Richmond Park at the Kingston Gate end had miles of blackberry bushes. But the park is so well tended that the odd blackberry bush was hard to find. There are better pickings in Bushey Park along the footpath towards the Hampton swimming pool.
Both there and in the wild bits of Fulwell golf course I'd never seen a better blackberry display - tons of the little fruit glistening with juice, clustered so closely that you could take a handful off a branch with one go. In ten minutes I had the makings of my meal.
Once picked, the blackberries went into a smashing blackberry crumble. You can also make the fruit into a blackberry fool, with whipped cream, which is also delicious.
The Food Standards Agency has put out an advice sheet called "Hedgerow Harvest" which tells you what fruits and plants you can pick and eat for free.
The main caution is about elderberries, which is the next harvest coming up. You have to avoid various poisons in the leaves and in the uncooked fruit. No problem about blackberries, though.
For more information on free food go to food.gov.uk/forage and the London Wildlife Trust runs courses for corporate groups on bushcraft called "Living off the Land"- phone 020 7803 4289.
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