Forage!

Ok, I’ll admit I’ve been horrible about my posting frequency. I had hoped to do at least one a week, but when you’re in civ and have nothing to say relative to the stated topic of your blog you get a little lazy about it. That said…

I went on a forage walk with Green Deane from www.eattheweeds.com last Saturday. That was, in a word, awesome. I ate stuff I didn’t know was edible. For example, I ate American Elm, willow bark, some stuff that tasted exactly like horseradish, Wild Cucumber, Ilex Vomitoria, Saw Palmetto fruits, and a host of other things I can’t remember or identify just now. I will say that there are quite a few tasty things out there if one knows where to look.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

  • Wild Cucumber. Tastes just like the cultivated one in the grocery store, but is the size of a large jelly bean. They burst in your mouth like
    Fresh Burst chewing gum or a small tomato. Incredible. I’d have gathered a hatful in a heartbeat if there had been enough.
  • The horseradish-tasting seed. Good for a burst of flavor in an otherwise bland dish. Deane said it’s dried and ground and used like pepper, but we picked the seeds and munched them right there on the trail.
  • Ilex Vomitoria. It wasn’t the flavor that I liked, but that it contained caffeine and the fact that I had no trouble whatsoever keeping a small handful of the leaves down, nor did I get a jumpies like I can get on caffeine nowadays. I. Vomitoria did not live up to its name, thankfully!
  • Saw Palmetto fruit. It’s said that it tastes like “moldy cheese in tobacco water,” and “bleu cheese with Tabasco on it,” but apparently I taste things differently than some people. I didn’t taste anything like that at all – it wasn’t bad, in fact, it was a little tasteless for me.

If you’re in the Florida area or have watched any of Deane’s videos on youtube.com, I highly recommend taking a little walk.

One point of note which bothers me very much is the concept of owning anything and everything on a plot of land, especially otherwise unused land. The reason for this is that it makes many viable forage areas illegal to forage on. Yes, the plants thought of as weeds or garbage on that nearby unpolluted plot are in fact owned, and it’s illegal for you to gather them. It reminds me of the story of the food dancers in Daniel Quinn‘s My Ishmael. So much so that I have a sneaking hunch that this is exactly what he was talking about.

I’ll definitely be doing this walk again.

About gblogswild

I'm learning a few new things from a few new people, whether they know it or not. View all posts by gblogswild

7 responses to “Forage!

  • obscureblogger

    I’ll concede that, in a technical sense, any land I don’t own belongs to someone else.

    But, as a practical matter … will the owner care if I eat something they had no intention of touching … didn’t even recognize as edible? I consider berry patches in parks, asparagus patches alongside rights of way, mulberry trees and dandelions in the alley and mushrooms growing on the side of trees anywhere I don’t have to trespass to get at them, fair game.

    At a conservative $4 per pint, I’ve picked $12 worth of raspberries this week that would have fallen to the ground had I not picked them. They’ll be used to make roughly $20 worth of incredible jam.

    Oh, and although the stems were on the park side of the fence, the roots were on the railroad side. The berries didn’t belong to the township and I didn’t trespass on the railroad property to get them. ;-)

    I’m putting ‘weeds’ that I used to aggressively pull out of my garden into salads now … less weeding, more feeding. I also found out that prickly lettuce is a great trap crop. It’s covered solid with aphids, but tomato plants 6 inches away are totally free of them. Good … saves me work weeding and saves me work getting rid of aphids. Win-win. Even the prickly lettuce makes out … aphids and all, it’s still setting seeds.

    In the absence of rows laid out with German precision and doused with chemicals to keep man hours down, food grows just fine.

    • gblogswild

      The raspberries are in season up there? Not here :( .. least none that I can find. Wild cucumber is, though.

      Trespassing is a bad word. One can only hope that we won’t have a use for it too much longer.

  • obscureblogger

    Saw Deans video about the cukes. Good description about the ripe ones “A laxative that will clean out a horse.” ;-) (Well, that was the idea … but not a quote.)

    (Pays to KNOW what you are doing foraging!)

    I’m going to watch more of them. Has he published a book? Hard to carry a YouTube video into the field, ya know?

    Yeah, the raspberries in the backyard only have a few days left.

    Had to chase a robin out of them today … it’s been very hot with no rain and I had moved my hose from dripping into a saucer to wetting the garden. They have been leaving them alone until now. He was just thirsty … I saw him perched only about 4 ft away with his beak open … thirsty. He eyed me and decided to chance it, grabbing a berry before flying away. I took a look at how desperate he was and started the water running into the saucer (pail top). Birds won’t hardly drink from water that isn’t moving. Water that isn’t moving harbors parasites.

    Funny thing about it, though, the river is probably less than a one minute flight away. The robin might be telling me something about the condition of the river, too.

    • gblogswild

      A book? Not that I’m aware of. I’ll suggest it though. He might not be into spending that much at the computer writing it! haha

      “Clean out a horse” is the phrase he used on the walk. GMTA, I guess.

  • obscureblogger

    Oh, btw, still getting snow peas, tomatoes are setting on the vine and should have green ones for the table mid-week, the grapes are going crazy, the bell peppers are a little bigger than a marble and the green beans are one or two days away from the table.

    The milkweed buds are at the point where they are about ready for cutting and there is a lot of purslane in the garden. My wife canned two pints from the raspberries yesterday and today she picked a similar amount of mulberries from a tree that was hanging over into a parking lot.

    Does that count as “Urban Foraging”? If so, I might start doing some videos myself! :-0

    BTW: I’m fasting. Two days water + electrolytes, one day normal food intake. Going for a brisk 1-2 mile walk every day, too. Odd thing is, on the day that I eat, I’m much more aware of how much I’m eating and unwilling to stuff myself. I’m still eating a little past fullness, but not at all like a week or so ago.

    • gblogswild

      Nice. It got too hot and the sun was burning the tomato. I pulled it into the shade and it’s well on its way back. The sun down here killed my dill, unfortunately, and I need to prune the basil.

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