Find your Food

Want to live off the land? Playing a survival game? Or maybe you just want to see what all the ‘foraging’ fuss is about? All it takes is a little know-how to find your next feast.

blackberry-226824_960_720Before you forage on your own, take a walking tour or field class with a native plant expert or foraging group. Those in the know can help you locate and identify plants that are safe to eat, as well as offer advice on preparation. (Some have specific cooking requirements to make them safe and palatable.) Look to your local Native Plant Society to find an expert near you.

Familiarize yourself with what plants, bushes, and trees grow in your area, even in your own neighborhood. Invest in a quality field guide that offers detailed descriptions and color photos. Don’t be afraid to jot notes in the margins or include your own photos to help you remember where and what time of year you found a particular plant.

Popular Foods to Forage

Weeds: Purslane, stinging nettle, dandelion

Greens: Watercress, wild mustard, miner’s lettuce

Mushrooms: Morel, oyster, chanterelle

Fruits: Raspberries, rose hips, blackberries

Roots and bulbs: Wild leek (ramps), wild garlic, onion

Nuts: Acorns, black walnut, beechnut

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t eat a wild plant without having it checked by an expert first!
  • Don’t eat plants from a questionable environment, like a golf course, farm field, parking lot, or manufacturing plant. It’s possible there could be chemical run-off or pesticides present.
  • Do go slow. It’s hard to know how your body will react. Eat only a little to check for an allergy or intolerance.
  • Don’t collect from nature preserves, harvest at entire area, or pick a threatened species.
  • Do only pick as much as you need — overharvesting can easily lead plants to extinction.
  • Do harvest in the morning after the dew dries, but before the heat of the day.

One thought on “Find your Food

  1. Someone wrote about foraging from roadsides on a long trip on bicycle from Northern California to Southern California and back back in the mid 1990s. He did not allow taking produce from within landscaped areas, gardens, orchards or such. Everything had to be accessible from the roadsides. He found that there was more produce than he could use. A single abandoned English walnut tree could provide for the entire trip. He took only what he would consume for the particular day. He did the same with avocados, berries, stonefruit and whatever he found on the road. The overabundance was astonishing. Of course, foraging with native plants would be much more work here!


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