This weekend I was lucky enough to have participated in a “Wild Edibles” foraging class. While the session took place on the property of an organic farm, we looked everywhere except within the neatly maintained beds of the identifiable veggies. To begin, our teacher made an incredibly simple, yet profound, point. “This row of lettuce was planted by someone who wanted it to grow here – someone who committed to care for it.” Wild vegetation chooses for itself, and it therefore must be that much more determined to support its own growth and survival. This hardiness almost always translates into a nutritional powerhouse of a plant. Our class was served a simple tea of white pine needles to begin the day. To prove our teacher’s point this gentle, simple preparation had 5x the amount of vitamin C when compared to an equal amount of orange juice. I was now paying very close attention!
The following are some of the photographs with the notes I took during our walk. I hope you will seek foraging experiences in your own communities. Here are a couple of strong, general recommendations our teacher made as well:
*Always consult at least two resource guides before you eat a plant you are unfamiliar with. Plants look different throughout the year and in various stages of development. When shopping for said guides, look for authors who speak from personal experience; “I ate this when…” “When I cook this…” These are much more trusted sources than someone just throwing together pictures and facts.
*Forage at least 50-100 feet from any roadside, railroad, etc. Toxins from exhaust, metals and other substances can fly into roadside areas and/or be carried even further with rain water.
*When trying a new food, start eating it in small quantities. It’s probably been a while since you introduced a completely new food into your body and everyone has different constitutions.