The earth, in its infinite generosity, provides us with so much sustenance. Wild edibles are just one such example.
One way in which we can honor the earth is by striving to mitigate the need for a lot of ancillary packaging and transporting of foods around the globe.
And if we process foods less, there will be less need to create plastics and other types of containers that emit toxins into the environment and litter the earth’s floor.
One question we can ask ourselves is, what can I find right in my backyard that I might have overlooked?
Many a guidebook has been written about wild edibles and a computer search for wild edibles in your area will point you down the footpath to myriad finds for a fruitful forage.
Here is a list of a variety of wild edibles and some of their health benefits.
Wild Edibles and Their Health Benefits
Burdock: Promotes the flow of bile, nutritive, detoxifying, diuretic, strengthens the liver
Clover: Warms the body, detoxifying, expels mucous, induces sweating, tonic for the spleen
Chickweed: Blood thinner, appetite suppressant, cools the body, scrapes fat
Dandelion: Detoxifying, diuretic, promotes the flow of bile, strengthens the liver, blood thinner
Echinacea: Strengthens immunity, anti-inflammatory, lowered blood sugar, calming
Fiddlehead Ferns: Antioxidant, strengthens eyes, lowers blood pressure, builds blood, boost energy and immunity
Lamb’s Quarters: Calming, strengthens muscles, stimulates energy, nutritive, builds stamina, builds blood
Nettle: Nutritive, anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine, diuretic, promotes virility
Red Raspberry: Nutritive, builds blood, strengthens the liver
Slippery Elm: Demulcent-lubricates, anti-inflammatory, wound healing
Wild Asparagus: Lowers blood pressure, diuretic, detoxifying, suppresses hunger, demulcent-lubricates
Yarrow: Stimulates digestion, induces sweating, alleviates symptoms of the common cold, encourages circulation
Before You Collect, Show Respect
Before you collect, take a moment to give thanks and show respect for the earth and its abundant generosity. Here are some basic guidelines to observe when foraging for edibles.
- Don’t pick or eat anything that you’re not positive is edible. There are poisonous plants that look very similar to edible ones!
- Take only what you need and tread lightly, disturbing the soil as little as possible. Be mindful that animals and insects depend on the earthly habitat for survival.
- Collect your edibles sustainably to support their continued growth and resilience.
- Try to choose edibles that can be collected at a time of year when their seeds can be planted for regrowth.
- Before you venture out to collect your edibles, make certain that you can identify them well and ensure that you are not collecting a poisonous substance.
- Check the rules for foraging in your area as they can very from place to place.
- Avoid foraging in areas that are sprayed with chemicals—including roadways and farmlands unless you know the farmer does not spray—or where there may be dirty runoff.
Return to the Soil
Finally, consider these ideas for making a contribution back to the earth.
- Plant a tree
- Begin composting
- Make the commitment to shop with re-usable bags
- Find ways to take action by volunteering or donating through organizations like Keep America Beautiful
- Get creative about recycling, repurposing, and reusing, to decrease landfill and other types of pollution
- Heighten your environmental awareness—read and attend lectures and group discussions.
Throw together a delicious salad of wild greens, fruits, and nuts, or get some ideas here.