Yesterday was a hot and humid day and with access to a permaculture garden, I decided to ‘forage' for a hydrating vegetable like a cucumber.

I couldn’t find the cucumbers so I settled for a small marrow. I ate this whole and raw and I overlooked the most basic of rules that I heavily apply to wild food – observing, sensing and feeling as I eat.

It was in a cultivated edible garden, so what could go wrong? During the consumption of the marrow, I felt a strange mild reaction almost like a faint tingle or numbness on my lips and tongue after each bite. At the time I wanted hydration so kept eating as the taste wasn’t bad and neither was the flavour itself.

Shortly after finishing the whole marrow I began to have some strange digestive upsets. It was nothing major at first, a little gas and some bloating. I overlooked it as my body acclimatising to the digestion of a marrow. I had forgotten the fact that no matter the food source, if my body likes it it will not react adversely – and that included discomfort during digestion.

I went to sleep feeling not entirely settled but none the wiser. I woke up with a severe feeling of dehydration that I couldn’t quench with water and my gut was still making noises, bloated and producing gas. My sinuses were blocked by mucus and discomfort. I also experienced mild dizziness when standing, likely due to dehydration.

I immediately knew something I had eaten yesterday had caused this and the only addition to my diet had been the marrow. Marrow is related to cucumber and it is a delicious hydrating cultivated vegetable, how could this possibly cause a reaction?

With some research I uncovered that there are allergies to some vegetables that contain salicylates and marrow is one of these that can contain larger quantities of these chemicals.

Salicylates are present in many plants as means of defence and some plants contain more than others. In fact many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs contain varying levels of these chemicals and some forms found in willow and meadowsweet can be used as natural aspirin.

However the defining factor that prevents me eating too much of those particular wild sources is feedback. Try to nibble on a meadowsweet leaf and tell me if you can eat a huge handful of that in a salad?

Marrow on the other hand has been cultivated to be delicious and hydrating but it also has higher amounts of salicylates in its skin than other home grown produce.

Symptoms of salicylate allergy can include: headaches, migraines, dehydration due to increased urination fluid losses or vomiting, bloating and gas amongst other reactions that can vary in severity.

I experienced a number of symptoms that related to mild salicylate poisoning which surprised me at first, because aren’t cultivated plants supposed to be edible and good for us?

What we do not factor into the equation is that marrow has been cultivated to grow larger, more succulent and less bitter than it’s natural form. This is deceiving as it can disguise the amount of toxins stored in its skin.

Due to my negligence of the mild sensitivity and feedback as I ate the marrow, I suffered the consequences of ignoring the vegetable’s natural defences.

On the subject of natural defences, did you know that there is an illness called ‘Toxic Squash Syndrome'?

Further research suggested that it may not be salicylates causing the problems as I have been fine with other salicylate containing plants. In the wild, squashes can be highly toxic and very bitter due to natural defences in the form of cucurbitacins.

These toxic steroids have been largely bred out of domestic varieties however they can still contain small amounts of this toxin, and larger quantities if the plant has undergone environmental stresses during growth – much like common hogweed increases its phytotoxins when attacked.

There have been numerous records of toxic squash syndrome, and the symptoms expressed are also similar to what I experienced. In retrospect, perhaps the strange sensations whilst eating the marrow was a form of bitter that I had not yet encountered.


Many of us possibly walk around daily with varying symptoms that we overlook and do not think to question the very things we put into our mouths as ‘food’. Whilst marrow is probably delicious in moderation without adverse reaction, I have learnt my lesson and I will pay just as much caution towards cultivated ‘edible' plants as I do towards wild food.



I am a deep and sensing creature

A feral mind, a wild picture

Lost in a world of disconnection

Hoping to find that real reflection

Amidst a sea of endless mirrors

Shattered, broken, distorted slivers

Of wounded hearts and sleeping minds

Unplugged, uprooted, forbidden to find

The lock and key that sets us free

To unbind the chains that the blind cannot see

Discover the magic, release the soul

Imagination makes us whole

I am starved of true connection

Tired of false facades and fake perception

I want to know, I want to feel

Show me something, something real

I am a deep and sensing creature

A feral mind, a wild picture

Lost in a world of disconnection

I will find that real reflection;

By Richard Mawby


Who is she?

With that graceful pose and fluid measure,

Who is she?

Dancing with the sun and filled with pleasure,

Who is she?

I am blinded by the morning light,

Who is she?

Detail blurred, a perfect sight,

Who is she?

An unknown beauty at one with the sea,

Who is she?

In the blink of an eye she is gone, a mystery;

By Richard Mawby

This piece was inspired by a very brief encounter one morning as I witnessed a lady in the distance doing yoga by the sea. The sun shone through her creating a silhouette and a magical backdrop - a feminine figure at one with the flow of the sea.


Today I hear of a new rebellion,

Another name, another fancy,

Another chance to stand and shout,

Till too it crumbles, I have no doubt.

Let me show you another way,

To take control, to have your say,

There is no need for arrests or protests,

The action comes with a quiet notice.

No more marching, no more fad,

Let go of the need to hold that flag,

To barricade or march or flout,

None of which shall hold much clout.

Be the change and act within,

Not by the word of some warrior’s whim,

An anonymous saviour playing a game,

This is not the path to victory and fame.

Open your eyes, what do you see?

Seasons are changing, the world it dies,

What food are you eating, what car do you drive?

Your choices are weapons, its time to survive.

Cloaked by a shadow, they can never see,

Or foretell its coming, should you choose to be free,

Knowledge is power and patience breeds wisdom,

Are you ready to save nature’s kingdom?

The fierce growing nettle, or a wilted tasteless leaf,

One born of the wild, the latter in poisoned grief,

Take your pick, this is the beginning,

Let her provide and she will see you winning.

The blankets of weeds that come from the sea,

There is more than enough for both you and me,

Rich with nutrition, ready and waiting,

But don’t wait forever, her grip is abating.

As industry plunders and dries up her blood,

And tears up her skin and protection for mud,

Mycelium destroyed, trees lost to murder,

Will you stand by and support this further?

What do you drink, or smoke, consume and waste?

Where did it come from, and how did it taste?

Feedback holds meaning, know your footprint,

Of choices made, compounding imprint.

No more marches, no more protests,

The change starts here, did you not notice?

Starve the beast and it shall wither,

No more coin to fuel its slither.

Reconnect and hear her calling,

Spread the news, and no more stalling,

Let her in and grow those weeds,

They are the answer, spread their seed.

Let the cities dance in green,

No more smoke, no fumes unseen,

Let her come, and come she will,

Rewarding us with smiles and thrill.

Restoring that, which we have but lost,

A balance of scales tipped at a cost,

Time to abandon a children’s game,

Time to stand and accept our blame.

Make your choices and make them good,

Fertile foundations, a strength understood,

Plant trees whose roots shall bind your resolve,

And then our problems can we truly absolve;

‘Be the change you wish to see…’

By Richard Mawby

Click here for the audio version and interpretation:

PLEASE NOTE: That this poem is not intended to twarte the efforts of those who are making a stand for extinction rebellion. There is a place for that and this poem was written a while ago in a moment of focus upon the other side of the spectrum - of the impact our daily choices can have including what form of transport we use to reach the protests and how what we put in our mouths has an unseen impact on the very thing we are trying to stand up against. See my voice interpretation in the link above to understand this particular perspective.


Listen… carefully, 
Can’t you hear?
How the earth she cries, 
And how the earth she sighs.

Of music tainted, 
Of music lost,
Her voice, their echoes,
Drowned at what cost?

I hear the rumble of engines,
And the roar of a train,
Whilst right on my doorstep,
She barely remains.

A song of whispers,
A song of tears,
Can’t you see? 
As her choir disappears.

Let her not be forsaken,
Destroyed and forgot,
By the dissonance of man,
Who knows not what they’ve got.

Listen… carefully,
Can’t you hear?
A lost song abandoned,
Deaf to our ears;

by Richard Mawby


I release you from this stagnant keep
Of tired regrets and dormant sleep
I have tied you up for far too long
I have hidden you and I am wrong

This creative swell of potent magic
I turned it off in a fear so tragic
A tap sealed shut to hide from drama
Staunched the flow of my own prana

But now it leaks and it drips faster
Drops and sparks of intense disaster
Raw and wild, free and flowing
Controversial madness steers the rowing

Break the dam and set me free
I am dying, struggling to breathe
Killing me slowly, starved of perspective
Let the waves shatter society’s objective

To keep me dumb, to tame my passion
I refuse to abide by zombie fashion
No more fear of ridicule and fakeness
Headaches be gone in the place of greatness

Let the tides rise and spill over the maze
A clever illusion of imaginary haze
All paths become one, and one becomes all
As I walk upon water, unafraid of the fool;

by Richard Mawby 
Related video below, worth the watch.

A passing thought:

Be careful that you do not confirm your 'story' too hard in this reality. If you believe yourself to have problems then you will have problems, emotional or otherwise. If you create excuses for these problems or situations based on past experience, upbringing and life events then you reinforce the subconscious belief of your story. It will manifest in the physical as events, situations and comforts to hold you in that firm belief.

Break the habit and everything will change but be prepared to leave behind and let go of what no longer serves you in the ever present moment...

RICHARD'S RAMBLINGS: On diet, agriculture and its sources, microbes, cultures and wild food

I find that there are many paths that you can go down these days. Most diets can work with the right planning and careful consideration, though what I have come to understand through my journey into wild food is that this particular angle can enrich any form of diet you choose to have. Our current food system is defined by intensive agriculture whether it is sprayed with chemicals or totally organic, the sad truth is that we are raping the planet of natural diversity, microbes, bacteria and fungi as well as the homes of many of its creatures that keeps the landscape in true harmony and balance. Mono-culture is the real killer and when you eat a tiny diversity of products our guts and our bodies are limited to that small spectrum of what we eat, rather than a diverse spectrum of genetics, nutrition and environments. I like to think that we cultivate our body to the environment we wish to live in and that includes diet, thoughts/mindfulness, taking walks outside of the city and generally changing our daily routines one by one to reduce our reliance on our current destructive industries.

I personally, through experience have never felt better on a seasonal wilder diet that is mostly raw (apart from warm carbs for winter etc, or the odd food experiment to teach on courses). I have also come to understand that whether it is plant, insect, fungi, fish, or animal that one chooses to eat, it is the habitat, the environment and the source of any of these food types that counts. Although superficially they might look the same, they are fundamentally different at their heart, in their nutritional make up and biodiversity of microbes/organisms that contribute to a healthy gut and consequently a healthy mind.

Choose the path that feels right for you, but including wild food along that journey through my personal experience and many others around me, has opened up the doorway into a health and mental clarity like no other.


Once upon a time I was numb to these sensations, these alarm bells resonating throughout my body at a cellular or perhaps microbial level.

A feeling that hundreds if not thousands of microscopic lives are dying each minute I spend within the centre of a town or a city with its thick polluted air suffocating me and the dead lifeless atmosphere where healthy microbes and bacteria cannot thrive.

My senses desperately seek some kind of connection in a deserted landscape of concrete and foreign noises. Shells of people pass me by deeply cultivated into the dead environment. They are either listening to loud music, smoking, heads down focused upon their latest social media feed and it all appears to be distractions from the painful reality we must all face should we choose to engage with our sleeping instincts.

Walking through the town centre my rewilded nature ran rampant, fight or flight heavily dictating the way I observed and moved with urgency to finish what I had to do and return to green landscapes. Each second breathing the stagnant air, my clarity faded and I could feel my body fighting the invasion of abnormal sounds, smells and bad cultures. A part of me wanted to switch off, to ignore, to become like everyone else and wander through this dense fog of disconnect without the urgency of panic or to hide from my internal and external cultures and microbes screaming at me to leave.

I refuse to shut down and I refuse to ignore the terrifying sensation that our industrial civilisation triggers throughout every cell in my being. Each time I must face the silent screams of my internal universe it reminds me of the reason why I live the way that I do and affirms the path of change I wish to walk upon.


I have been monitoring my allergies over the past five years or more and slowly building up a profile of what could be causing them as well as eliminating factors that were not.

Over this time I have narrowed it down to a couple of main contributing factors: Air pollution by cars especially at busy roadsides or in towns and cities, and air pollution by agriculture via ammonia in fertilisers.

I have discovered that I do not suffer by the coast or in areas that are remote from any towns and cities, and also away from intensive agricultural practices which sadly are few and far between in our modern world.

Whilst there are some genuine allergies to nature, I wonder if most of our 'hayfever' symptoms are caused by the ammonia and increasing pollution from our industrial civilisation and its functions.

"Ammonia gas is lighter than air and will rise, so that generally it does not settle in low-lying areas. However, in the presence of moisture, ammonia can form vapours that are heavier than air. These vapours can spread along the ground or other low-lying areas."

This statement could explain why we suffer most in the spring, summer and autumn months and especially when artificial fertiliser is actively used on the fields. Higher humidity can usually be associated with higher temperatures due to the amount of water that can be stored in the air increasing sharply with warmer climates.

Fertiliser is often used in the spring time or when plants hit their peak growth cycle and therefore it makes sense that we would suffer during these prime periods and lesser so when winter approaches.

Given that ammonia can form vapours heavier than air in moisture rich environments, does it not also make sense that this is why we might suffer during our hotter summer months? - I have noticed personally that I suffer most when there has been rain fall and in the worst scenarios it is during or after hot humid days of rain.

"How does ammonia act in the body? - When ammonia enters the body as a result of breathing, swallowing or skin contact, it reacts with water to produce ammonium hydroxide. This chemical is very corrosive and damages cells in the body on contact."

Symptoms of exposure to ammonia can include:

- eye, nose, and throat irritation
- breathing difficulty, wheezing, or chest pain
- pulmonary edema, pink frothy sputum
- burns, blisters and frostbite.

Exposure can be fatal at high concentrations.

The green revolution began in the 1960's where we started to adopt the intensive farming methods we know today using chemical fertilisers. In the 1970's we began to see a rise in 'hayfever' symptoms and it was recorded that 10% of the population at that time suffered from this allergy. A few decades later the figure of sufferers has increased exponentially which could tie in closely with our fast decreasing air quality that seems to peak in the summer months with the height of agricultural production. It would also make sense that pollen can play a part in this added irritation, and it is not the pollen itself that is allergic, but rather the particles of air borne pollution that is carried upon them.

THIS SHOULD BE ENOUGH: To cause alarm and think about what kind of an impact we are having upon this earth. Given the current climate crisis and coupled with our alarming acceleration into soil degradation, there are plenty of symptoms eating away at our conscience to hopefully trigger a tipping point before it is too late for change.


Please note: that these words are my thoughts and feelings on this topic and therefore are not related or associated with any organisation or should be taken for absolute truth. I could just as easily be wrong, but this is what I feel to be true at the moment of writing and it is subject to evolve through experience and future understanding.


"During the past few decades, a growing body of evidence points to an association between urbanization and the rising trend in allergic diseases, suggesting air pollution as a major cause for this trend. Studies have shown that people living in urban areas experience more severe and prevalent allergic symptoms than those in rural areas." - An excerpt from a fully referenced article on the correlation between air pollution and pollen allergies link at the end if this post.

Aside from agricultural fertilizers this is another aspect to my allergies that I have theorized for a good few years or more based simply on observations coupled by experience of the outdoors and acute sensitivity to environmental changes. Today I decided to do some research to back this up and this was the first article amongst others that I uncovered.

"The interaction between air pollutants and pollen grains might damage the pollen cell wall, increasing the amount of allergens released into the environment. Experiments on Platanus orientalis pollen performed by Lu et al. revealed new kinds of particles on the pollen surface after exposure to a mixture of pollutant gasses . Chehregani et al. confirmed the accumulation of sub-micronic particles on the surface of Zinnia elegans pollen grown in the presence of pollutants, which resulted in an increase in allergen release into the environment and increased pollen allergenicity."

There are also references in this article that suggest an increase in the plant pollen's own defences due to air pollution and unfavourable conditions which results in a higher allergic response to pollen grains, see excerpt below:

"Recently, the effect of air pollution, as an environmental stressor, on allergens categorized as pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins, has attracted much attention. These proteins are part of a plant defense system that plays a key role in protecting plants from undesirable conditions, such as pathogen attacks, drought, and freezing temperature. To date, few studies have examined the impact of air pollution on these proteins. For instance, Cortegano et al. reported that Cup a 3 allergen, a PR protein family member, was more abundant in polluted than in unpolluted conditions, a finding confirmed by Suarez-Cervera in 2008. These studies noted that cypresses increase allergen expression as a defense strategy against pollution, which can also affect pollen allergenicity."

This would explain why I suffer most near cities, towns, and busy roads during the summer months. Fertilisers from agriculture can also bind to the pollen and it makes perfect sense that ammonia could be one of them.

Whilst pollen might be the carrier, we have created our own problems through industrialisation and we can no longer hide from the impact we are having upon the earth. It will only become worse unless action is taken - so make a stand in your daily choices and let's change this world together.

Welcome to my updated writing blog

Hubpages is an outdated writing tool I used for my public works and whilst it is great, unfortunately many of my writings on there are not visible due to no longer being featured by hub pages algorithms.

For any articles still visible on hub pages please visit:

Here I will update with various topics from thoughts on wild food, to poetry and stories - what ever inspires me in any given moment. I will also copy through some other writings that were published elsewhere.