Why Forage?

Trout lily was one of the first wild plants I learned to harvest from the greenspace across the street from my house. There’s a thriving colony that appears in a rough circle at the base of a redbud tree for a month or so before fading back into the earth as ephemerals do.

By Jason Hollinger (Dimpled Trout Lily  Uploaded by Amada44), via Wikimedia Commons

By Jason Hollinger (Dimpled Trout Lily Uploaded by Amada44), via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes I feel quite fringy bending down in early spring to pick the tender leaves before moving on to check the basswood tree and other faves. Even in my groovy neighborhood, it’s somewhat marginal behavior to pick salad leaves off the ground in a public space.

Then I read something like this:

“Some people think that it’s silly to go for an invigorating walk on a May morning and come home with a lush heap of delicious gourmet vegetables when it would only take slightly longer to drive to the grocery store and spend hard-earned cash to get weeks-old inferior produce with half the nutritional value, doused with deadly chemicals.

I see their point, but I’m sticking with wild food just because it’s a lot more fun.”

–Samuel Thayer, in Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

Reading on, I find that not only trout lily leaves but bulbs are edible–and are in fact tastier than the leaves.

Hello shovel, goodbye self-consciousness. (I would make sure not to decimate the colony of course. Thayer says responsible harvest practices allow trout lily colonies to thrive.)

What about you: What’s your favorite gourmet wild vegetable to forage, or have you tried any yet?

3 thoughts on “Why Forage?

  1. I have not tried any and unfortunately it’s because I’m just not good at identifying them and I’m kind of chicken to experiment. Do you know a good book to help? Is the Thayer one above pretty good?

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