Foraging In Your Own Back Yard

Different tribes of the American Indians didn't grow very much of their own food.  Many of them where very healthy living off what their Great white God and Nature had planted.  There are still a few people who today gather some of their food from the wild.

Besides not needing insecticides and being a rich source of vitamins and minerals, it can also give variety to our otherwise mundane diet.

Some foods such as dandelion and Cat-O-nine tails are easily distinguished while others such as Queen Ann's lace and Wild Hydrangea can be mistaken for poisonous look alike.  So some caution should be used.

I suggest that when gathering food out of the wild that a book with pictures and drawings are studied and used.  When in doubt (even a small amount of doubt) Do not eat.  

The book that I suggest is published by Reader's Digest and called the Magic and Medicine of Plants.  

Spring is a good time to gather wild food (for example dandelion) because the plants are still young and tender.  One of my favorite delicacies as unusual as it sounds, it the tops of Cat-O-Nine tails.  They should be picked when the tops are about the size of a man's little finder and still greenish in color.  You boil them like you would sweet corn, drain them, butter and enjoy.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

Not so long ago dandelions were used by many.  They made wine from the flowers and some deep fried batter covered flowers,  Others cooked the roots and ate them like carrots and use leaves in salads.

The following is a recipe given to me by my mother.  It is quite tasty even if the bacon, sugar and salt aren't very good for you.

Dandelion Salad

Take 1 at of young fresh dandelion (keep  the little buds they are delicious) wash thoroughly, drain and set aside.

ADD

3 green onions (chopped)

3 hard boiled eggs (cubed)

2 med cooked potatoes (boil with skins on then cube)

Fry till crisp 4 strips of bacon cut in 1 inch pieces.  Remove from pan

TAKE

3 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

and heat in bacon grease and pour over onions, eggs and potatoes and toss.  Add bacon to top.

IT CAN BE A COMPLETE MEAL

There are other wild foods that can be easily added to a conventional garden salad such as:

Sour grass - gives salads a tangy taste

Chickweed - historically used for weight loss and cholesterol control.

Dandelion - extremely high in natural iron.

Leeks - come call wild onion (said to be good for the heart)

Burdock - has been used as a blood purifier and for acne.

Of course you need to be very careful that you are eating non poisonous plants.  Or plants that may have been sprayed.

Most people think of these herbs as just weeds.  I believe like Ralph Waldo Emerson who once said "A weed is just a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."

So called weeds are absolutely nutritionally superior to other annual (garden) plants because many have a tap root that goes down deeper into the earth to where grass and other plants haven't drained the soil of rich minerals and vitamins.  

So when you look out into you your lawn and see all those weeds, don't go for the weed killer, get out the salad dressing.  :)

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