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consciouseating WILD EDIBLES

Forage Local Lands for Free Goodies by Steve Brill


ay, those plants along this path look good enough to eat. Well, maybe they are and perhaps we should eat

them. There are thousands of plants of all types that can provide healthy, nutri- tious, organic meals we’ll never see in a grocery store or restaurant. Just don’t call them weeds. That’s

only civilization’s erroneous name for the prolific, edible herbs, greens, berries, roots, nuts, seeds and mushrooms that sustain the neigh- borhood herbivores (including people). Yes, a few of them are not good for us, even poisonous, but with a little effort, we can easily tell the good from the bad and the ugly. Many of these over-

looked treasures are more delicious than com- mercial produce. Consider the increas- ing appreciation of native heirloom varieties of vegetables; growing on their own, without artificial fertilizers

or pesticides, their native nutrition value often exceeds that of hybrids grown for ap- pearance and the ability to hold up under long-distance shipping. It is vital to avoid environmental

toxins when foraging, so stay at least 50 feet away from highways and railroad tracks or anyplace that has been sprayed with chemi- cals. Identifying the plant you want with 100 percent cer- tainty is also paramount. Don’t worry, it gets easier with practice, and easier still

in the fall, when growth is mature and characteristics are more pronounced than in the

18 BuxMont Edition spring. Another rule of thumb is to harvest

where growth is abundant, and take only what’s needed. Foraging is not about stocking up or making money on a crop; it’s about our personal relationship with the Earth and sharing its bounty, so respect that. Picking up any scattered litter along the way also contributes to the benefits.

Shoots and Greens Wild greens are leafy vegetables, often excellent either raw or cooked. Shoots are edible stems, such as asparagus, which we usually cook. When we elect to eat both the stem and de- veloping leaves, the distinction

between shoots and greens becomes irrelevant. Seasons, like wild species, vary from place to

place. Spring, summer and fall all begin at various times of year in different states, as well as in warm, sheltered spots, such as those with southern exposure, or next to a wall or boulder reflecting solar heat. Thus, just a few feet away from a meadow of dandelions in full flower, younger, even tastier ones might be growing, partially shaded by a wall. Dandelions, sheep sorrel and cattails grow all around the country, so let’s look at what they have to offer.

Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) One of the most nutritious of foods, dandelion leaves provide more vitamins A, C, E, K, and B complex, plus the minerals iron, calcium and potassium, than any commercial vegetable. Even the blossom provides vitamin A, calcium and magne- sium.

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