To Forage. I’m no expert…

but a few weeks back (I thought I had lost this post, but it “reappeared” today.  Hoorray!)  we had the pleasure of hearing none other than Green Deane talk about foraging.

The first thing he said (which I didn’t know) is that in the State of Florida it is illegal to forage unless you are on private property, with permission,  or in some parks etc. I can only think this is yet another of those old laws that just doesn’t really fit with the times. Alas government is far too slow a body. We need to fast track things that matter (like people being able to improve the ability to feed themselves and there families).

Obviously enforcing this law isn’t a high priority for most law enforcement, but I am certain some park rangers take this mission to heart!

I have a friend who is always surreptitiously putting specimens in her backpack as they walk about – it IS funny, you know who are.

Honestly though, that we don’t have a better system for sharing a basic thing like our own food source is just ludicrous. There many other venues for capitalism, but I firmly believe that for those that choose to – access to growing your our own healthy food is something all human (and animals) have the right to, regardless of their situation.

So back to foraging.

People are going to do it. We’ve had it coded in our DNA to forage and those who do so on a regular basis I admire for being close enough to their ancestors to make it part of their lives.

Interestingly, only about 7% of the plants in the wild are edible to humans (depending on things like climate, time of year, elevation and where you are).

What I find fascinating is how so many edible plants are what us “civilized suburbanites” call weeds in the yard.  Things like Spanish needle, crab grass, even dollar weed.

Why is it that the further we humans have moved from the farm (me included) the less we eat what is right under our noses, literally. How very backwards to have to go “buy” something for a salad say, when we have access to many plants  to make a nice side dish. Now obviously if you are spraying your yard with fertilizer you might want to avoid eating the weeds. Come to that you might want to look into alternatives, there are a ton out there today which save you money and the environment.  😀

Now I’m not saying everything edible makes sense, pick the right food for the situation, but we have let so much knowledge and “sense” fly out the window and yet we need these varied skills even more as the years and decades pass.

So here are a few plants that Green Deane talked about:

Note:  it is important to KNOW what a plant is before eating it ——–  Never ever eat a plant unless checking it with a local expert.  Think it’s not a big deal?    We spent a fair amount of time talking about the numerous letters Greene Dean has received relating descriptions of plants that were supposedly edible, but sounded more like extremely poisonous things like water hemlock.       YIKES!

Another important tidbit:

If you can identify the following poisonous  plants, you will eliminate an enormous amount of concerns related to foraging in an area.   1) hemlocks – this would take away about 90% of concerns. 2) Oleanders 3) yews 4) Rosary Pea – this plant takes a very small amount to make you very sick and is deadly. The sad thing is the bead like peas are often used in jewelry because of there uniformity and beautiful colors.

Okay so without further ado: 

Smilex: A vine that has edible tips (new leaves) best in the springtime.

Sorghum: Tis edible, but did you know that it has cyanide in the plant so you want to be sure to eat it at the right time of year.

Skunk Vine: It’s edible, but the noxious gas you will have is going to make you, well …. skunk like!

Caesar weed: This is what is called famine food. One to skip,  unless you are dying from starvation.   Interestingly this plant was brought over in the 1930’s to use the fibers for making burlap.   I think I want this in my garden for the material!!

Persimmons: I found this one noteworthy, not for it’s food possibilities but rather that they are found in transition places. They like to grow right at the edge of different types of areas – like fields, roads, rivers, rail roads, fences, trails. They can be a scrubby looking shrub all the way up to a massive 80 feet tall tree.

Dollar Weed: These always seem to find there way over things like the septic tank area or some soggy land, which in my mind makes them less than appealing – however if you find them in a moist area with the right conditions….. they are suppose to help control high blood pressure. If you add a bit of penny cup and ginkgo to the mix it’s even better for you.  These guys too like transitions and edges.

Dog Fennel: I heard from an herb society meeting awhile back that this plant was edible. I thought that was pretty cool and have always kept that information tucked way in the back of my mind. Well here is a prime example of why  it’s SO SO important to research before you go and forage.  Green Deane said “yes dog fennel is edible, it also has toxic properties”.  So to me this is better left uneaten, instead use it as a poultice or used to help start a fire or as an astringent.

Avocado: Did you know that this lovely fruit is poisonous to nearly all other animals other than humans? I did know it is deadly to exotic birds – I find that so odd – but had no idea that was the case for other animals.

Spanish needle: I had an ah ha! moment here, as I have this plant it in the far reaches of my yard and wasn’t sure what it was until he showed the little burs, little v-shaped prongs that love to stick to my dogs lovely hair. 🙂  Anyway it can be dried and the leaves used for tea. The plant can be clipped and hung upside down to dry – also has anti-inflammatory properties to help with things like swollen mucas membranes and even the root can be used to help with a urinary tract infection.

Elderberry: Yes – of course this is edible. Unfortunately, many people confuse water hemlock for Elderberries and THAT is a seriously bad mistake.  I just got seeds for elderberries, so I’m really looking forward to having them on our property as a fedge (food hedge)

and this one is my favorite . ….

Crab grass: Did you know before corn was a staple crop that humans and animals alike use to use crab grass as a main source of food. You simply eat the seeds.   I suppose you can also grind them up to use as a flour as well but how many of you have tried to eradicate this lovely weed from your yard?

Green Deane was witty, interesting and had many interesting stories to tell. In particular SPICEY Son remembers a comment that he made about some interesting mushroom that “liquefies your liver” as it passes through your organ a second time. If you get a chance – just for the sheer pleasure of it, I recommend taking a class or watching his videos on You tube.

We anticipate an interview with SPICEY Son and Green Deane in the future.

Thanks for reading and we hope you find the plants a little more interesting around you!

May you know the SPICE in life!

AS

Link to Green Deane’s website Eat the Weeds.  http://www.eattheweeds.com/

Link to You Tube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/EatTheWeeds

 

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