Barry: How I became a nettle eating champion

By Rowenna HoskinBBC News

grey placeholderBeth Hodges Beth Jones doing a peace sign at the camera sticking her tongue out to show the brown stained effect stinging nettles have after eatingBeth Hodges

Beth Hodges has defended her nettle eating world crown

All of us know what it feels like to be stung by a nettle, but can you imagine eating them?

Beth Hodges, 38, from Barry Island ate 19.5m (64ft) of them at the 2024 World Nettle Eating Championships – making her the reigning women’s champion two years in a row.

More than 30 people, from as far afield as the US and the Netherlands took part in the competition at the Dorset Nectar Cider Farm in Waytown, near Bridport on 22 June.

Ms Hodges said: “The funny thing is I’ve never won anything – this is the only thing.”

grey placeholderPiles of stinging nettles laid out on the tables ready for competitors to eat

The stalks are cut into 61cm (2ft) lengths and counted at the end

Participants had 30 minutes to eat as many leaves as possible before the empty stalks were counted.

They are given cider to help wash down the nettles and relieve the pain.

Ms Hodges said her entry into the competition last year was not planned and had been an impromptu decision – however, this year she had to give back the trophy so thought “why not?”.

Before last year, she had never eaten nettles.

“I remember trying one just saying ‘oh my god I’m so out of my depth’,” she said.

Yet the next day she ate 18.3m (60ft) of nettles and won the women’s cup.

On 22 June this year, she took on former world champions and won again.

grey placeholderBeth Hodges Beth Hodges with a mouth full of nettles in front of the table of nettles and cider in 2023Beth Hodges

The first year Ms Hodges took part she ate 18.3m (60ft) of nettles

‘It tastes a bit like matcha green tea’

“You’re given two foot of nettle stems, a pile of them,” she said. “You can either pick off the leaves individually or strip the stem – then you get the seeds and everything.

“I was kind of squishing them so I rolled it and squished it into a bit of a burger patty.

“They get really dry, they’re quite fibrous, it gets really hard to really hard swallow.

“That’s what slows you down because it’s fine getting it off the stem, it’s the chewing which takes forever.

“It tastes a bit like matcha green tea,” she told BBC Wales Breakfast on Tuesday.

grey placeholderBeth Hodges Beth Hodges (centre) with her thumb up to the camera drinking cider. There are two men stood either side of her and a table of nettle leaves are in front of themBeth Hodges

Ms Hodges said despite eating all the nettle leaves her mouth did not hurt

Ms Hodges said :”They give you cider as well, so I was dipping it but this year I had a lot of water.”

Despite eating so many nettles leaves, Ms Hodges said it was not her mouth that hurt.

“Your hands are just on fire, which obviously they would be because you’ve just grabbed a bunch of stinging nettles – even now I’ve got little bits in my fingers.”

She does not have a game plan, she said – nor does she do anything after to ease the pain.

“I just ride it out,” she said.

So the question of everyone’s lips is, can she do it three years in a row?

She said she’s going to compete and will try to outdo her current record.

The tradition dates back to the 1980s and was held at the Bottle Inn at Marshwood, which has since closed.

The championship began when two farmers had an argument in a pub discussing who had the longest stinging nettles in their field.

The longest-nettle competition eventually turned into the World Nettle Eating Championships when one of the farmers, Alex Williams, promised to eat any nettle which was longer than his.

Source link