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'Obsessive' Foraging Couple Makes Chocolate From Fungus And Spaghetti From Seaweed

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Fungus chocolate and seaweed spaghetti are signature dishes for a gourmet couple, who have swapped conventional menus for tasty treats rustled up from edible fauna they have found foraging.

Salesman Gerard Murphy, 41, and his girlfriend, Lindsey Laing, 38, who works in HR, have dubbed the woodlands and coastlines near their home in Falkirk, Scotland, "nature's supermarket," where they go shopping every weekend.

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The "obsessive" foragers, who met online in 2014, are keen to become self-sufficient, according to Gerard, who said: "We love nothing more than to spend the day rummaging in bushes and seeing what we can find."

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He continued: "We have a way to go, but we see this is the first stage of becoming self-reliant and escaping the rat race."

As well as turning seaweed into spaghetti and giant fungus growing on trees into chocolate, the couple also make dog rose vodka.

And while they do not hunt their own meat, meaning they still need supermarkets for ingredients they cannot source in the wild, they hope before long to be able to forage everything they require.

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"The next stage for us is to hunt and fish, and I've been reading a lot about slingshots which we could potentially use on squirrels and rabbits," said Gerard.

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At the moment, Gerard is chief forager, while Lindsey puts her expertise in the kitchen to good use by concocting delicious and inventive dishes – replacing conventional ingredients with her boyfriend's finds, thus swapping pasta for seaweed.

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Claiming to be richer and healthier because of their diet, the couple say they benefit from the medicinal properties in foraged foods such as chaga mushroom, found on birch trees.

Used for centuries in Siberia and other parts of Asia as a medicine to boost immunity and overall health, they make coffee with it.

"Chaga doesn't taste of much, but I dry it out then grind it up with my coffee beans. I'd say it gives me a lot more energy and I haven't had a cold since I started drinking it each morning."

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Preparing to embark on a cabin-building course in the summer, Gerard and Lindsey are aiming at one day being able to live from the fruits of their toil alone, and view foraging as the first step along the road to leading a self-sufficient lifestyle off-grid.

"We get a few odd looks from our friends and family when we start talking about foraging," said Gerard, who, like Lindsey feels their shared vision has made them happier.

"It's certainly become an obsession of ours. There are times when we'll be in the middle of a wood together and come across a rare fungus and we will literally hug each other with joy.

"It might be a little quirky, but it's better than being sat at home watching TV."