The gathering of food, also known as foraging, was practised by the nomadic hunter-gatherer populations to enable them to meet their food needs. With agriculture, gathering was transformed into a systematic task: the harvest. Nonetheless, gathering food in the wild was still a useful way for the underprivileged classes to supplement their diet. Later, as standards of living increased in the industrial era, gathering food in the wild turned into a leisure activity.
Food gathering takes place in the wild or on cultivated land. However, gathering food from cultivated land, or ‘harvesting’, is nowadays mainly a mechanised, industrialised production process, while gathering food in the wild has hardly evolved since prehistoric times. Nowadays practised as a leisure activity in industrialised countries, it is governed by legal directives regulating the quantities that may be gathered and the tools that may be used, in order to protect biodiversity.