Foraging Hints

Chickweed, Flower

Check out Renee’s sweet and thorough article on eating weeds. We spent a morning foraging in her Central Austin yard and found all sorts of yummy things to eat. Her article and my recent talk at the Zilker Garden Festival reminded me that I should mention a few things to keep in mind, especially if you’re new to foraging:

  • Keep foraging simple – try your yard first, or your neighborhood park. You’ll probably find more on a walk around your yard than you will on a hike in the greenbelt.
  • If you don’t like the taste of something at first, try it again. And again if possible.  Sometimes we have to acquire a taste for wild foods before we incorporate them into our diet. Think about all the things you consume now that you had to acquire a taste for: coffee? beer? collard greens? olive oil? Henbit and spiderwort might fall into this category as well.
  • Don’t be afraid to taste something; sometimes the taste will help you identify the plant. If it turns out tasting nasty or bitter, you can always spit it out and it won’t kill you – you’re more likely to be harmed by food you eat in a restaurant than by a little nibble of a plant in the wild. And of course if it tastes sour-tart and lemony (Oxalis spp.) or like onions (Allium spp.) or like cucumbers (Parietaria spp.), then you’re on to something. Properly identify it, then harvest and eat it!

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