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Wild Edibles & Medicinals

Posted by kevinwolz on July 13, 2010

It’s really ironic to realize that most of the “weeds” in your yard are actually edible, many of which were actually standard items in past native and colonial diets. It gets drastically more ironic once you discover that many of these “weeds” are actually pretty tasty AND much better for you than their “traditional” counterparts in our diets.

As a side effect of my interest in native plants, I have dabbled in wild edibles in the past. Last week, however, I was able to spend some time with a friend who really knows his stuff and actually do some real foraging (thanks Casey!). It was definitely an eye opening experience. Don’t underestimate the potential of your local ecosystem!

Some of my favorite wild edibles include sorrel, which looks like spinach but tastes like lemon candy, and black raspberries. So good! I’ve also recently tried making lemon balm and bergamot teas, the latter of which was exceptionally tasty. Some plants I’ve heard a lot of hype about but have not yet tried are dandelion (tea/coffee and greens) and lamb’s quarters (greens), both of which are especially nutritious compared to our standard coffee and greens, as well as particularly easy to grow!

On a similar note, I spent another morning learning the basics of medicinal plants (thanks Nicole!). First of all, the most important point to make is that FOOD is the best medicine. Eating right will prevent just about every sickness you can think of. In my opinion, there is no healthcare crisis; there is a health crisis, which stems from a food crisis.

Anyway, back to the plants. I learned the basics of identifying, harvesting, and preparing medicinal plants, as well tried my hand a few of the methods. We made a Nettle infusion (kind of like tea but steeped for several hours and is therefore much stronger) and an Echinacea (purple cone flower) tincture (very concentrated, alcohol-based infusion that is added drop wise to other beverages to reap the medicinal effects of potent but bitter tasting herbs). The Nettle infusion is particularly high in iron and other minerals, and the Echinacea infusion is an all around immune system booster that is touted as one of the prime natural medicines.

Overall, both of these experiences were very educational and, while I may not be the best position to engage in these activities at this point in my life, they are definitely skills that I deem necessary for my future. Now is the time to learn.


One Response to “Wild Edibles & Medicinals”

  1. Joan said


    I have the yellow coneflowers growing all over my yard. they are called Black-eyed Susans and as far as I now, they are not medicinal. I would like some of the pink coneflowers; just never got any.
    As for dandelions, never had any but my Grandma used to eat it. It must be picked very young. She ate it as a salad, I believe.

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