Although hardly noticed or formally recognised, urban foraging by humans probably occurs in all urban settings around the world. We draw from research in India, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States to demonstrate the ubiquity and varied nature of urban foraging in different contexts. Across these different contexts, we distil seven themes that characterise and thereby advance thinking about research and the understanding of urban foraging. We show that it is widespread and occurs across a variety of urban spaces and places. The species used and the local practices vary between contexts, and are in constant flux as urban ecological and social settings change. This requires that urban foragers are knowledgeable about diverse species, harvest locations, and rights of access, and that their practices are adaptable to changing contexts. Despite its ubiquity, most cities have some forms of regulations that prohibit or discourage urban foraging. We highlight a few important exceptions that can provide prototypes and lessons for other cities regarding supportive policy frameworks and initiatives. The formulation of dynamic policy, design, and management strategies in support of urban foraging will benefit from understanding the common characteristics of foraging in cities worldwide, but also will require comprehension of the specific and dynamic contexts in which they would be implemented.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited