Thirty some years ago, I lived on a farm in Reynolds, Missouri. Every Thursday I would go help an elderly neighbor woman — Mrs. Glore — old enough to have outlived three husbands. She taught me that most of the weeds we would be pulling out of the garden were useful and edible plants and that rather than getting rid of them, we should incorporate them as the evening’s dinner and thus double or triple the yield of our gardens.
Wild foods are plants nourished by rain, sunlight, moonlight, and wind. Learn to enjoy the freshness of a salad that was collected five minutes before being eaten when much of the produce bought at a store, was growing a month ago! Learn to eat local, native and cut down on grocery bills. Many of the foods one buys in groceries are descendants of wild plants. In times of survival, we can be all the more prepared by recognizing the wild things around us.
Lambsquarter (Chenopodium album is a member of the Chonopodiacee (Goosefoot) Family and a relative of spinach, quinoa, amaranth and beets and much easier to grow!
The genus name, Chenopodium is derived from the Greek chen, meaning “goose” and podus, meaning “foot.” This is because the shape of the leaf looks like a goose’s foot. The species name album means “white” and refers to the whitish beads of moisture that are on the top of the plant. Lambsquarter is also known as wild spinach, goosefoot, pigweed, Good King Henry and fat hen. Lambsquarter, the common name is a corruption of “Lammas quarter,” a harvest festival held August 1st.
The stems, leaves, and seeds of lambsquarter are all used as food. The goosefoot-shaped leaves of this abundant plant have long been used as a nourishing food during times of need. The leaves taste like spinach and are even more nutritious being rich in beta carotene, vitamin B2, niacin, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Eat lambsquarter raw in salads, prepare like spinach. Like spinach, lambsquarter contains oxalic acid; so be sure to get adequate calcium if you’re ingesting a lot of this plant. Lambsquarter can be dried, frozen or canned for winter use and even fed to animals as fodder. Seeds of lambsquarters can be dried and sprouted or ground into flour for bread, pancakes, muffins, cakes, cookies or gruel. The seeds are also used as a seasoning and a coffee substitute.
Next: recipe for Lambsquarter à la Salt and Vinegar and video