Archive for June, 2010

Not Everything You Read is True

That’s right. Not everything you read in a blog—or a book—is true, a bit of mind-blowing advice that my dear friend Mark imparted to me back in college one day. I repeat it now to warn Wild Food Girl readers to:

  1. Use common sense when it comes to wild edibles.
  2. Identify plants correctly before trying them.
  3. Cross reference accounts of a plant’s edibility among several guides.
  4. Eat only a small amount at first.
  5. Eat greater quantities only when you are 100% certain of the plant’s edibility.

51aHowfc4ML. SL160  Not Everything You Read is TrueI have to admit I was less uninformed than I am now (still wanting of information) when I started blogging about wild edible plants at etmarciniec last year. I wrote about plants I found and ate in the wild and the books upon which I based my plant identifications and preparation methods, but at that point I wasn’t aware of any controversy over the quality of existent wild food guides. Then I read a section in Sam Thayer’s The Forager’s Harvest where he calls out some prominent wild food writers for advising people to eat toxic plants. Yikes. Read the rest of this entry

cow parsnip unfurl 350x262 Roadside Cow Parsnip Boiled in Tap Water—Delicious!

Unfurling cow parsnip leaves are a wild, woolly delicacy.

The other day I wrote about fireweed, the wild edible plant that Gregory Tilford chose to honor by adorning the front cover of his book with it.

Earning a similar distinction on the cover of Kathryn G. and Andrew L. March’s 1979 guide, Common Edible and Medicinal Plants of Colorado with Recipes and Prescriptions, is cow parsnip, a plant that shares its classification in the Umbelliferae family with regular parsnip, carrots, parsley, dill, coriander, fennel, and anise.

“The fresh young shoots and the first leaves, just as they are unfolding, are a most exotic, wild and woolly, stimulating taste, a bold stroke to mark off the mid-spring and early summer season,” the Marchs write. “The flavor is one of a kind, with at most distant echoes of fresh coriander, strange at first but one comes to crave it.”

After reading that, I had to have some. Read the rest of this entry

And Then We Gorged Ourselves on Goosefoot

lambs quarters 300x225 And Then We Gorged Ourselves on Goosefoot

Lambs quarters, aka goosefoot, coming up under the rose bush in Steve's back yard.

Goosefoot, aka lamb’s quarters, wild spinach, and pigweed, is said to be one of the most popular among wild edible plants, particularly when it comes to the uninitiate. 

As “Wildman” Steve Brill and Evelyn Dean put it: “If you begin learning wild foods with only a few plants…this widely distributed, easy-to-identify, tasty, nutritious, long-in-season plant should be one of the first on your list.”   

I don’t always tend to do things in the right order, so as it turns out, goosefoot ended up being more like #50 on my list. But boy, what a #50 it was! 

The opportunity to try it for the first time came about last week when Gregg and I visited his brother-in-law in Fort Collins, Colorado for an early birthday celebration. Steve was out back mowing the lawn for a much-hoped-for badminton tournament when we arrived. I quickly surveyed the small, fenced-in enclosure to find, much to my pleasant surprise, hundreds of lamb’s quarter plants in various stages of growth. “I thought they were pretty so I didn’t weed them out,” commented Steve, who is charged with the lawn care. Now that’s a good man!  Read the rest of this entry