Thursday, October 27, 2011

High Food Prices? Look Around Outside...

The cost of food just keeps going up and up. Just the other day we heard about peanut butter going up by 40%! (A national catastrophe! as my brother says.)
I was heading out on my normal afternoon's walk and took a look around. From where I stood outside the door, I could see plantain, dandelion, lady's thumb (pictured), a few remaining lambsquarters, now gone to seed, a bunch of some kind of mint, a really nice healthy looking mullein plant, lots of mugwort, some curly dock plants, a few red clovers, and a bit of wood sorrel.
Walking down the road, I saw walnuts galore from the black walnut tree, and some Queen Anne's Lace. And persimmons from the persimmon tree. And pine trees across the road.
While the cost of grocery store foods have surged ever upward, all of the food plants mentioned above are still free and available for the harvest with a wee bit of work on my part.
While I find plantain a bit too fibrous to eat, if I needed or wanted its nutritional value, I'd add it to a pot of water for a vegetable broth. Ditto with all the plants I just mentioned. If you're feeling run down and sickly, pick a bunch of these wild vegetables and green and make yourself some healing broth with them.
Some of these plants are greens for eating, some have medicinal uses, but all have a lot of nutritional value, full of vitamins and minerals.
It can take a while when you're new to identifying plants in the wild. But I will tell you this--I first starting learning this stuff about 5 years ago. While there's still zillions of plants I don't know, there's now a lot of them that I recognize easily. Once you're had that EUREKA moment and identify a plant--you'll then see it everywhere for a while. And you'll know it from then on, like a good buddy.
With grocery costs spiraling higher, consider learning to forage some of these green plants, nuts, berries. Learn which have edible roots (like Queen Anne's Lace--but be careful, there's some toxic lookalikes of Queen Anne's lace, so leave this one to experts). Learn which greens are better at what times of year. When you learn some of this, you can start harvesting and cut your grocery bills.
We all love lambsquarters here. It's a spinach like green and quite tasty. Highly nutritious--better for you than spinach, actually. So when it is flourishing, growing wildly everywhere, I harvest it, blanch it, freeze it, and we eat this lucious green instead of the $1.70 package of frozen spinach or $1.99 to $2.99 bags of fresh spinach from the store. See what I mean? That's money I don't have to spend, I can keep it (or more likely, spend it on something else...)
I gotta go, but I'll be back. I think for a while, I will focus on various plants ...


Craig Cavanaugh said...

Not much to forage here I'm afraid, but the Laguna Madre holds all sorts of seafood delicacies : ) Thanks for the post though, never know where one might end up.

Jennifer said...

Welcome back!

I look forward to your posts on specific plants!