“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Whenever I read about food foraging–finding and eating wild edible plants–the same thing happens. The article mentions something like “miner’s lettuce” or “wild radish” and I think, what’s that thing? Then I look up a picture:
(Wild Radish courtesy NPS)
and immediately recognize it as a weed around my home.
I guess I always food foraged and didn’t know it. I grew up gathering wild huckleberries:
and sucking the nectar out of clover blossoms:
(White Clover courtesy Martin LaBar)
whenever I was outside.
And while I was a weird kid, it’s also part of growing up in an incredibly edible countryside. (Seriously, where I grew up, there were edible plants everywhere.)
These day, food foraging is becoming more hip. People are tapping maple syrup in Brooklyn and picking from their neighbor’s unused fruit tree and mushroom hunting. You can even go to a wild food dinner in San Francisco, the mecca of all food trendiness.
This article in Mother Earth News comments further on the trend:
Kerri Conan blogs for The New York Times, and keeps a sharp eye on food trends. “When you see ramps (Allium tricoccum; also known as wild leeks) featured in Bon Appetit, and miner’s lettuce on the menu at Chez Panisse, you know wild foods are moving into the mainstream,” Conan says. She thinks the renewed interest in the humble act of foraging is due (ironically) to the increasing sophistication of the American palate.
Today, I regularly “forage” in the sense that I hardly every buy bay leaves:
(Courtesy Trek Earth)
(Courtesy Better Homes and Gardens)
because they are all over the countryside around me. However, I’ve never actually gone out looking for wild food to eat. I don’t know if I ever will, but I may at least give the dandelions in my yard another look.
(Courtesy Uwe Hermann)
Frugal Living has a pretty good little get-you-started list of common edible weeds and when they are in season. Here’s the list for April.
Shaggy Mane Mushrooms
If you do food forage, make sure you know what you are doing. Some plants are poisonous.