Did the blog title get your attention? YES I am going to tell you how to get FREE organic food, and there are no coupons to clip, no mail-in rebates, no questionnaire to complete and no email list to sign up for. No gardens to dig. You don’t even have to plant a seed for this food. There is nothing to weed, mulch, stake, prune or plow. Simply harvest and enjoy.
Have you got me figured out yet? I am talking about wild edible plants, and they are growing all around you in magnificent abundance. In fact, if you stopped tending your lawn, you would have a super market surrounding your home! Plus, we would all be healthier without all that fertilizer, pesticide, and weed killer used to keep lawns looking “good”.
Wild edible plants are the purest expression of unprocessed, organic, nutrient rich plant foods. Did you know that the vegetables you buy in the market have declined in nutrient value since first tested in the 1950s? This study illustrates the decline in nutritional values of vegetables and fruits as the practice of monoculture expands. Many of the wild plants readily available all around us have more nutritional value than anything that we can by in a market- including organic grown!
Purslane, for example, might be the richest source of plant-based omega-3 fats, as well as being loaded with vitamins A, C, and E. In addition to its bounty of omega-3 fatty acids, purslane has other nutritional benefits. How’s this for fabulous and FREE? (OH! Yes it tastes very mild and juicy)
- SIX times more vitamin E than spinach
- SEVEN times more beta carotene than carrots, providing 1320 IU/100g of vitamin A (44 percent of the RDA), which is one of the highest among green leafy vegetables
- 25 mg of vitamin C per cup (20 percent of the RDA)
- Rich in magnesium, calcium, iron, riboflavin, potassium, phosphorous and manganese
Garlic mustard is another high nutrition wild plant. As an added reason for eating it- it is labeled as an invasive- so eating it helps your local plants to thrive. Garlic Mustard greens are high in vitamin A (8,600 units per 100 grams) and vitamin C (190mg per 100 grams), according to William Needham, who writes the “Hiker’s Notebook” for the Sierra Club at SierraPotomac.org.
Stinging Nettle is a magnificent plant with a bad rap. SURE it stings you if mishandled, but that’s only because every living thing would munch it right out of existence! Nettle greens are delicious and harmless when cooked, steamed, dried or blended into a pesto. As an herbalist, this is one plant I use for almost EVERYONE in their herbal formulas. Nettle is nutritious and gently anti-inflammatory for the entire body. As an added benefit, Nettle ROOT has been shown effective in keeping male hormones potent. What’s not to like?
There are hundreds of plants to eat all around you. Before you go out harvesting, however, follow these guidelines:
- Harvest plants away from roadside dust and pollution
- Harvest from places free from pesticide, herbicide and chemical fertilizer use
- Always ask permission prior to harvesting from someone’s land, and note that gathering plants in parks may be illegal
- Be respectful of Nature- NEVER take more than you need, and NEVER take every plant. Leave the biggest, healthiest plants so they can continue to thrive
- ALWAYS be certain before you eat any plant. There are a few wild plants that can make you very sick and even kill you. Forage with a knowledgeable person, a good guide book, or learn to ID wild plants yourself.
On June 27th & 28th 2015, I will hold a workshop- the 5th annual Wild Food Weekend. We will identify, harvest, prepare and eat many local wild edibles. Come learn about the bounty of wild foods all around you- it’s a skill that will last a lifetime, save you tons of money, and offer you a new respect for the food to eat right under your feet! See you there!