Wild Foodies of Philly
search of the food beneath our feet!
WELCOME! COMMENTS, CAUTIONS,
“Re-wilding” is about learning to live with nature, again.
natural world contains fantastic natural resources for food, fiber, medicine and
have been cherished by people of many cultures for thousands of years.
aim to educate ourselves about the wild plants, native and non-native, in our region.
During this process, it is important to cultivate an open mind because there are always new things to learn.
It is also a good habit to refer
to multiple sources of information and to keep a notebook. No one source contains
all the information on wild edibles, and some information can be incorrect.
Certain plants have been called 'poisonous' when only specific parts are, or
they need special preparation in order to become edible, or they are for
medicinal use only.
Rather than rely solely on foraging, we also encourage you to grow
wild plants yourself so they can be close at hand. Most wild edibles can grow
anywhere - in yards, planters, and pots!
So, welcome to our community and enjoy learning about our WILD WORLD OF PLANTS!
WHY WILD FOODS?
Truly Sustainable –
Wild foods can survive and multiply without human assistance, as compared with
most crops that are hybridized, selectively bred, or genetically modified.
Real Food Security –
Although “food security” is often portrayed as a sufficient number of grocery
stores within a given area (mostly stocked with imported and non-wild foods),
as compared to wild plants that offer the possibility of 'real' food security
through the mindful & diverse cultivation of our local wild resources.
- Plants and animals that grow in the wild have a diverse diet and environment
which makes them more nutritious, versus conventional farming methods that
tend to create monocultures.
Connects People to Nature
- The mind-stomach-nature connection is a powerful one, particularly when
people begin to realize that many of the plants they are walking on are
important sources of food, fiber, and medicine!
Respect - All wild plants have a 'purpose' in the
ecosystem and it is our job to
understand what it is.
Consideration - The 1/3 Rule is common
practice by most foragers to refrain from harvesting more than 1/3 of any one
plant or patch. Make an effort to learn about what plants are endangered and
do your part to restore stands of threatened or endangered plants.
United Plant Savers does important work on these issues:
Public Parks & Private Lands - It is illegal to forage on property
that is not your own. We use public parks to learn to identify
wild edibles (and nibble a bit). However, you can volunteer in their
weed removal programs, which can be an opportunity to forage wild edibles. In
addition, there are some wild edibles, such as ramps and milkweed, which
require special protection under any circumstance, private or public.
Common Names vs
As we work to
identify and share knowledge about wild foods, we recognize that plants can be
called by several names. Many foragers use common names because they are
easier to pronounce and remember, but we encourage the study of the Latin
binomial (genus and species) names of plants when possible, as it's the
scientifically and internationally-accepted way of organizing species from all
kingdoms. It ensures that we are talking about the correct plant as common
names (for example butterfly bush) can be used to refer to many different
species of plants. It takes practice! Do your best!
TIPS ON FORAGING, PRESERVATION, PREPARATION, ETC:
Identify It -
Always be sure of what you are foraging. Tour guides, apps, and guidebooks (many
found at http://www.wildfoodies.org)
are invaluable. You can also look up "poisonous look-a-likes" in guidebooks
and search engines. If you haven't positively identified it, don't eat
it. If you want to try it anyway, check out different versions of the
Universal Edibility Test --
Identification - We use at least four senses to identify plants:
sight, touch, taste, and smell. Often we need to scratch and sniff at stems
and roots (garlic mustard), tear a leaf in half (spice bush), or roll a leaf
between your fingers (mugwort) in order to squeeze out juices & capture the
- Taste &
Smell - Wild edibles come in a wide variety of flavors based on their
phyto-constituents and compounds. they might be: bland,
bitter, sweet, sour, spicy (pepper), savory (bayberry leaf, goutweed, mugwort),
salty, sulfurous (mustard, garlic, onion, pepper), minty, mushroomy, etc..
The same plant can taste differently depending on soil conditions, time of
year, time of day, and each person's unique taste buds.
Some plants need to be processed (boiled, cooked, dried, soaked, or fermented) in order
to be safely consumed.
Part - Many plants have
parts that are safe to eat, but other parts that are not. Be sure to
know the difference.
Go Slow - Eat in moderation. See how your system processes the food. You could be
allergic to it. Some wild greens pack a punch, unlike many waterlogged greens
that are sold in
stores. Many wild edibles are an herb and should be used as a condiment or garnish, but not a main
course. “Juicing” wild plants should also be done with extreme care. A
very diluted 'green smoothie' or light 'green drink' is a better alternative.
Forage in the AM - Generally, you want to forage in the morning
just after the dew dries and when the plants
are at their crispy best.
- If walking in tall grass, cover the areas of your skin that might be
exposed to ticks. Hats are a good idea as well.
Sun Block - The safest thing is to wear a hat and clothes that cover
your skin, thus avoiding the use of scented sprays and ointments that others might be allergic
or sensitive to.
Wild herbs, such as
mint (henbit, dead-nettle, creeping charlie), can be used safely. You might
crush the leaves and rub the fresh-pressed juice on your skin or make an
infusion to spray on your body when you are out in the field. - http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Mint-As-an-Insect-Repellent.
Take particular care with young children and tell them not to consume any
plant without a knowledgeable adult present, as children are far less likely to
understand which plants or plant parts may be toxic.
CONTAMINATED AREAS -
Avoid certain areas, such as next to roads, train tracks, former industrial areas,
vacant lots, etc..
Lead contamination from cars or house paint (used in houses built prior to
1970) can make plants taste sweeter. If
you want to grow plants for food, have the soil tested (http://www.wildfoodies.org/MISC.htm).
If it is contaminated, there are plants that can remediate the soil over time.
Otherwise, purchase organic soil with as few additives as possible.
MILKY SUBSTANCE AND WHITE CENTRAL VEINS
If a plant leeches a milky substance, Latex, avoid it - except for sow
thistle and wild lettuce, and even then, go slowly. Many people are
allergic to latex and this can result in anaphylactic shock. For plants like dandelions, chicory,
lettuces - latex in the white central vein might adversely affect those allergic to
latex. Therefore, eat on either side of vein, first
FINE STINGING HAIRS -
stinging nettle and prickly pear.
SOAPY TASTE -
saponins in yucca, soap-root. May need to be cooked out prior to consumption.
CARROT FOLIAGE -
Be sure to study plants of the Apiaceaea (carrot) family to know the
differences in how plants present their foliage. One of the most dangerous
plants in this family is poison hemlock, which can look very similar to Queen
Anne's Lace (wild carrot).
OXALIC ACID - Too
much oxalic acid, such as in spinach, is said to interfere with the processing
of calcium in the body and can contribute to kidney stones for those that are
the U.S. National Institutes of Health have determined that the negative
effects of oxalic acid are generally of little or no nutritional consequence
in persons who eat a variety of foods.
MOLD - Avoid
plants whose green parts have turned color -- dark or white, particularly if
conditions have turned very humid or wet.
POISONOUS PLANTS - There
is a difference between non-edible and poisonous. Non-edible usually
means that a food or plant is too bitter, tart, etc. to be used for food.
Poisonous means that the plant could make a person ill, sometimes fatally. Know
the regional Poisonous Plants - http://www.wildfoodies.org/PoisonousPlants.docx
Cautions, and Tips are to assist you in learning about our Wild World of Plants.
Forage On, With Care!
Lynn Landes, Founder
217 S. Jessup Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107