Foraging for Fun – You Gonna Eat That?

Next time you take a walk down the sidewalk, make sure you don’t step on any salad greens.

Most people, when they hear the word “foraging,” picture a trip to the deep woods with an experienced (hippie) nature guide pointing out delectable dishes of tree bark and edible bugs.  I’m not knocking it; I’ve never tried it.

Watch your step - there could be dinner under foot.

Watch your step - there could be dinner under foot.

What I have tried is purslane.  Chances are pretty good that you’ve walked on it, mowed it, or killed it without realizing that you were overlooking a satisfying and healthful ingredient.  Reddish stalks spread out along cracks and crevices in walkways and planters, boasting thick green leaves that can be plucked or eaten alongside the stems.  Get this: purslane has the highest Omega-3 levels of any leafy green vegetable!

Foraging sometimes means looking a little more closely at your surroundings.  One day, while walking out in our pasture land, we found a large patch of small white flowers.  Upon further inspection, we recognized a leaf pattern very similar to our strawberry patch – and with good reason.  We had discovered a wild strawberry patch.  Wild or alpine strawberries are much smaller than conventional varietals, but they are prolific and super sweet.  Great find!

A picture of brand new strawberry blossoms shared on Facebook earlier this week.

A picture of brand new strawberry blossoms shared on Facebook earlier this week.

So, how do you figure out what’s edible?  There are plenty of books and online resources with general information, but a great place to start for what’s growing in your area is the nearest university agriculture extension service (for us, it is our OSU extension in Union County, located in the Union County Ag Building on Rte. 4).