If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see a lot of me referencing eating things on hikes/lake walks. The truth is that I frequently eat stuff I find in the middle of nowhere. It’s a great way to get fresh fruits and greens with very little effort. Oh, and they’re free. Do you know how much a tiny container of blackberries is at the grocery store? I do. I’d rather take a hike and eat a ridiculously fresh handful. Nutritious and cost-effective. Foraging freaking rocks.
A few things before you decide to go foraging in your area:
1. Educate yourself. There are things out there that are not-so-good for humans to attempt to eat. Be adventurous, but bring a guide. No one really wants explosive diarrhea. Here’s a good guide book, here’s a good web site. Don’t eat anything you can’t fully identify.
2. Wash your food, especially if it comes from high traffic areas. I live in an apartment complex, so I’ve been avoiding the temptation to harvest any delicious looking dandelion leaves that I’ve seen. Raleigh has about a million dogs and half of them live in my complex. Anything I see has probably been pooped on at some point. But berries? I don’t wash them because I’m hiking. They’re fine.
3. Stop weeding your yard. You don’t really have to go abroad to find greens to eat. Your yard is FULL of plantain, dandelion, and clover (unless you’ve had turf installed recently). Why waste time looking for it anywhere else? Bonus if you dodge it when mowing.
4. Mind property lines. It should go without saying that you should not stray into anyone else’s yard to grab eats. They may be saving it for themselves, but more likely, they will just be creeped out if you start grazing next to their lawn chairs.
5. Overharvesting. Don’t do it. Only take what you need. Let the plants live to see another day. Not only will it benefit you later, it keeps the surrounding ecosystem in balance. Make sure to try to scatter their seeds, if you can find them, to proliferate the species.
Keep those facts in mind when you forage and enjoy your free food!
Have you ever foraged? Would you try it? What’s your favorite wild plant to eat?