Wild food foraging

  • You must read the website disclaimer.
  • All wild plants must be regarded as inedible when not accompanied by an appropriately qualified professional.
  • Observe the wild food foraging codes and legislation that applies to your geographical area.
  • Learn how to identify wild plants by working with an expert, watching several video clips and having some good field guides. Local plants may appear different to those from other geographical regions. Learn to apply the ITEMIZING method from Greene Dean to the plants in your area.
  • Observe the same plants at different times of the year to familiarise yourself with their appearance throughout the annual cycle. This will help you understand the best harvest times, particularly for wild fruits. As well as looking, check what the plants smell like and what they feel like. See Sergei Boutenko's excellent clip.
  • Whilst many wild plants are edible, they may be edible raw only in small quantities. Some plants contain significant levels of oxalate which is poisonous in quantity. All plants contain toxins to prevent them from being eaten in their own natural environment. Our ability do deal with these depends on the type and quantity, and this ability may vary from person to person too.
  • Generally avoid plants that have white milky or latex sap as these are likely to be very poisonous. There are one or two exceptions.
  • Some wild plants may be ok when they are growing in one location, but poisonous when growing in another. Wild celery is an example of this.
  • Some wild plants may only be edible at certain growth stages or at certain times of the year.
  • Parts of some wild plants may be edible, but it doesn't mean that the whole plant is edible.
  • Some wild plants need to be prepared in a special way to make them edible.
  • Wild plants may have been attacked by insects, mites, fungi and other parasites. Avoid anything that doesn't look fresh and healthy.
  • As with any food, even if it's edible, it doesn't mean to say that you will like it. Sometimes it's a matter of getting used to the taste.
  • Once you have learnt how to identify wild plants, the biggest problem is locating plants that have not been contaminated. Avoid plants growing at the side of roads, near industrial areas, near runways, near sprayed agricultural land especially land cultivated with GM crops, near polluted water, or on routes used by dog-walkers and anything else that could contaminate them. So that probably excludes half your potential sites.
  • All is not lost however, you can always replant a potentially edible specimen into a pot in your backyard and grow it on for a year.
  • Having said all that, there are a number of wild plants that are relatively ok once you get to know them.
  • For most plants that can be used in salads, it is the young fresh leaves that can be used, the older leaves being much coarser.
  • You could also have fun growing wild plants from wild plant seed obtained via a certified route. Ensure that the soil is free of any other seeds so that what grows is what you planted!

Links

  • This is a definitive site for wild food foraging especially for North America. Eat The Weeds (with Green Deane) (and other things, too)
  • http://www.eattheweeds.com