Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why Eat Wild Foods?

With all the bounty available at the grocery store the question arises, why forage for wild foods?

1) They are organic.  No telling what has happened to the foods at the store.  Pesticides, fertilizers, preservatives, GMOs, several days, and thousands of miles just to get to your table.

2) They are local.  Obviously, no fossil fuels were used for their transport to your table.  Some are so local, they are right in your yard.

3) This is the best part... They are free.  Not only do they not cost money, but you don't even have to grow them.  No work except the gathering and preparing.

4) Many of them are healthier for us than modern cultivated greens.  A recent study pointed out the fact that wild herbs have compounds that fight cancer which have been bred out of cultivated greens.  The bitter herbs like dandelion have more of these.

5) It is fun going out and learning what is there in our surroundings.  It brings us closer to nature, gets us off our couch in front of the TV, and puts us out in the woods, fields, or even just in our own back yard, really looking at what is there, and being part of it.  It connects us to our environment.  And that is what we have lost in our modern world.  We don't feel connected with the natural world.

6) They are part of God's bounty provided free for us, and we shouldn't turn our noses up at them.   Everything in the world is given to us, and has a legitimate use.  It is up to us to figure out what the proper use is.  For some things, the only use is to just appreciate the beauty.  But in the fields and woods surrounding us here in the midwest, for an unbelievable number of the plants, one of the proper uses is to eat them.  They aren't just weeds, they are a valuable part of God's Creation, given to us.

Radish Greens

OK.  So this isn't wild food, but it certainly is overlooked.  Did you ever wonder why sometimes radishes are sold with the greens still on?  It is because they are really good to eat.

I have asked around, and very few folks seem to know this, or have even heard it.  Radish greens don't taste anything like the root.  They are mild, and good.  Prepare them any way you would spinach.  Boil them, and eat as a side dish, throw them in soups or stews, make a quiche, etc.  They are as versatile as spinach.  You can even eat them raw as part of a salad.  And I bet if you try them, you will like them.

The ones pictured above are from our crop this year which wasn't worth anything for radishes.  With the weird year, they didn't even develop a root, just went straight to flowering for seed.  So I pulled them all up, but of course it wasn't a total loss, because that pile of greens made a really nice Fritata.  See the Fritata post for the recipe.  

It is surprising how I get laughed at when I talk about eating this sort of stuff.  I believe in our modern society, we have forgotten just how much is out there that is not only edible, but really good and healthy!  We are so used to just buying food at the grocery store that we we have lost part of our heritage.  This is ancient knowledge, and still good today.  Not only that, these overlooked foods are part of God's bountiful provision for us.