Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Picky Eater

I've really enjoyed learning how to forage and have found a number of tasty "weeds" around the Farm, the gardens, and other safe, unsprayed places.

As I wander around town, I often spot some of my wild edible friends, though I tend not to pick what I spot since (A) they are on other people's property and (B) I can't be certain they haven't been exposed to pesticides or herbicides.

This week, though, a friend of the Renaissance Man with a gift for finding free food introduced us to some urban foraging right in our neighborhood.

As it turns out, the nearby park (public property) has a number of opportunities for foraging in areas that clearly have not been sprayed (as attested to by the flourishing crops of poison ivy and garlic mustard).

One, just down the street, is a large mulberry tree on the edge of the park, and right now the berries are ripening fast. (If you can't spot a mulberry tree from its leaves, you can look for the crushed berries on the ground below it.)

We wandered down to the tree and stood under it, reaching up to pluck a berry at a time and enjoying our al fresco dessert. Not all the berries were perfectly ripe, but they were perfectly delicious!

I picked more later, adding them to the dish of berries the friend had left to share, and I'm sure I'll find a good use for them. Or, I'll just snack on them and then wonder where they've gone...

In another section of the park, along the edge of the woods, clusters of black raspberry canes provide a thorny border between field and forest. And soon they'll provide flavorful foraging, too, by the looks of the berry clusters!

Back in the marginally more civilized realm of the Renaissance Man's backyard, I discovered another new friend to forage: plantain. Well, it's not really new to me, but I've never harvested it before. The leaves are mainly useful in a medicinal sense (good as a poultice, especially on rashes).

The seeds, however, are packed with fiber (a European version has been used in Metamucil, according to "Wildman" Steve Brill), and one foraging book recommends sprinkling the seeds on your morning oatmeal. I'll have to give that a try!

I think what I enjoy most about foraging is finding surprising sources of food -- with even more surprising nutritional benefits -- all around me, just waiting to be noticed.

And that's food I can definitely pick!

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At 6/19/2009 1:58 PM, Blogger Phoenix said...

Most excellent! I would definitely like to do some more foraging myself. I'm still trying to convince my housemates that we should leave the dandelions in the yard alone so we can eat and/or drink them later. :-)

At 6/19/2009 2:48 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

If you need any incentive, Phoenix, you can come get a small bottle of dandelion wine to help you persuade them. :-)


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