Most of us don’t stop to consider the abundance of foraged foods all around us, some edible plants – like dandelions, nasturtium, verbena, mint, sorrel – can be found right in our own backyards! However, before you go foraging for your supper, you must first know what you’re picking (and putting in your mouth). Wild mushrooms for example can often look a lot alike, and many are poisonous to humans. Experts like Jeremy, of Foraged & Found Edibles, have spent years getting to know the local landscape, various plants and fungi, animals and other environmental factors that might compromise the edibility of a found food. After sunshine this week, then a dusting of snow, Jeremy got his hands on yellowfoot mushrooms, nettles and huckleberries for us to cook with – which will all go perfectly with the wild Coho salmon I got at the market!
Why it Matters
Foraging is an exchange with the natural environment that takes us back to our primal roots. It helps us to cultivate a sense of respect for nature, its cycles, and the source of true nourishment. It connects us to nature in a way that has been lost in our modern culture of convenience supermarkets and fast everything. When done correctly and respectfully, it can help return us to harmony with this ecosystem, of which we are all a part.
From a nutrition perspective, foraged food are a product of nature vs a product of agriculture. Thus, they have greater nutrient density – higher in omega-3 fatty acids, bio-available protein and anti-oxidants, and I like to think more prana and life force. These are foods that haven’t been monetized, commercialized, or fertilized. They have not been manipulated by man to grow stronger, or bigger or produce a higher yield. They have grown big and strong all on their own and have likely had to withstand challenging forces of nature to do so.
If you are considering foraging there are a few things to consider. Until you have done your due diligence, and learned the fundamentals, you might want to consider foraging at your local farmers market or co-op. But for those of you who are ready to venture out into the wild, here are some things to consider:
- Never eat a plant you cannot positively identify.
- Try all new plants in small amounts, and never mix too many new plants in one meal until your system is used to them.
- Be mindful that you are sharing this ecosystem with wild animals, insects, bees etc. – so take only what you need for a few meals – don’t stock up.
- Never damage the plant or tree – harvest in a manner that retains parts that keep the plant growing.
- Be mindful of safety – animals in nature, especially deer can carry E. coli, so you might want to consider a vinegar bath before eating your foraged foods. A study published in 2003, found that washing vegetables in a vinegar bath removed 98% of bacteria on fruits and vegetables, and its super easy to do: 3 parts water to one-part vinegar, fill up a clean sink or basin and let your edibles soak about 3 minutes. Then thoroughly rinse in clean water and lay to dry.
Benefits of tea herbs:
Foraging can be done in the neighborhood you are living. But be careful not to pick plants that may have been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides. Wash the parts of the plant properly before using them.
The wide range of beneficial nutrients found in stinging nettle makes it an ideal detoxifier for the body and it has been known to gently cleanse the body of toxins. As a diuretic, it can also ensure that those toxins being neutralized in the body are then eliminated quickly, says the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. It helps improve the nutrient uptake efficiency of the gut and ensures that the digestive processes run smoothly, thereby preventing the accumulation of dangerous toxins. It also stimulates the lymphatic system, helping rid the body of excess toxins in the kidneys as well.
Dandelion is a very easy herb and edible plant to find. It grows in lawns, grassy places, and even in cracks in the pavement. Although regarded as a weed, the Dandelion is one of the best edible plants. The root of the dandelion contains substances that increase bile production. This in turn improves digestion and helps rid the body of toxins. Dandelion root is a great liver cleanser and contains many vitamins and minerals that are good for the body.
You can find roses in most of the gardens and parks and may be in your backyard hedges. The very high vitamin C content of rose tea makes it a wonderful natural boost for your immunity system. The
1 each shallot, sliced thin ,
2 each lemons, juiced ,
2 tsp salt,
3 lbs mixed garden greens,
2 sprigs thyme, chopped ,
2 sprigs taragon, picked ,
4 sprigs parsley, lightly chopped ,
1/2 cup olive oil ,
1 tsp salt ,
1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and 1/2'd,
1 tsp salt, as needed ,
1/8th tsp black pepper, as needed ,
1/4 lb parmesan ,