If you have browsed the Green Smoothies Blog you know that rotating the variety of greens in your diet is very important. Wild edibles are a fantastic way to increase the diversity of greens in your smoothies, they are higher in nutrition than store bought greens and they offer a cost effective solution for those on a budget.
This article is written by Sergei Boutenko. Sergei is extremely passionate about wild edibles and has shared his knowledge through talks and guided hikes all over the world. Sergei will be touring Australia in April 2010, click here for more information.
By Sergei Boutenko
After several months of drinking green smoothies I got very tired of using kale and spinach. It was at that time that I first embraced weeds. I appreciate that weeds presented me with a practically unlimited variety of greens. This summer I discovered heavenly scrumptious and nutritious “new” foods such as: pumpkin leaves, grape leaves, chicory greens, young and tender borage leaves and flowers, tightly curled fists of young ferns, clover leaves and flowers, plantain, sorrel, and even lemon grass. Next year I plan to fill my garden a large variety of weeds.
Wild edibles often contain more vitamins and minerals than commercially marketed plants. Weeds have not been “spoiled” with farmers’ care in contrast to the “good” plants of the garden. In order to survive in spite of constant weeding, pulling, and spraying, weeds had to develop strong survival properties. For example, in order to stay alive without being watered, most weeds have developed unbelievably long roots. Alfalfa’s roots grow up to 20 feet long reaching for the most fertile layers of the soil. As a result, all wild plants possess more nutrients than commercially grown plants. I feel so silly now when I remember how I used to always pull out the “nasty” lambsquarters from my garden to let my “precious” iceberg lettuce grow.
The best way to learn which weeds are edible is to sign up for an herb walk with an experienced guide in your local area. This way you can learn to recognize particular edible plants by actually touching, smelling, and tasting them so that you can gather your “wild produce” on your own. Also, there are lots of articles and photos of edible weeds on the Internet. You may also find many books that help identify edible plants in your area. Please maintain caution when picking wild plants to avoid poisoning. There are usually only a couple of poisonous plants in one region, make sure you can identify them well.
Borage leaves and flowers
Chicory greens and flowers
Dandelion (greens and flowers)