Edible wild food to forage for in the spring include cattail stalks, dandelion, chickweed, chives, nettles, wild lettuce, violet leaves, redbud flowers, mustard and rose family flowers, violets, strawberry, and gooseberries. It is a great time to dig burdock, dandelion, and wild parsnip roots.
There is a veritable feast out there! Herbalists believe that foods available seasonally provide nourishment appropriate to the body’s needs at the different times of year.
Experts recommend you introduce yourself to two or three new wild plants to eat a season, so as not to become overwhelmed. Start now!. The most important thing of all is to forage safely, both for your health and the environment. These guidelines will help:
This is a condensed version of a list by Deborah Lee reprinted in The Green Kitchen Handbook. A few good guidebooks for identifying plants are a must!
1. Know what you are picking. (Many edible plants have a poisonous look-alike.)
2. Be extremely careful when collecting mushrooms.
3. Know what part to pick.
4. If wild animals can eat the plant, it doesn’t mean it is safe for humans.
5. Avoid plants near industrialized farming or any area where commercial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides may have been used.
6. Avoid foraging near main roads due to herbicide use by road crews.
7. Don’t over harvest any one plant or area.
8. Take only what you need.
9. Clean and sort through the plants in the woods.
10. Don’t overeat foraged plants as they can be strong medicinally.