“Once we have tasted wildness, we begin to hunger for a food long denied us, and the more we eat the more we will awaken.”
– Stephen Harrod Buhner
This is a little challenge that I like to take every year. Add something wild to one meal a day. Some days I succeed in adding to all my meals, and some days I’m lucky if I remember to run out and eat a wild flower. Bringing my kids on board with this challenge is a great help in reminding me to eat wild every day, they love this sort of thing! Each year I try to push it further into the season. My goal is to eventually practice this daily year round.
What is wild?
Wild foods grow all around us. They come in many forms. The more you learn about wild foods, the more you’ll discover all around you. They can be simple like the Dandelions, Violets, Chickweed and Plantain that grow in our backyard, providing greens and flowers for our salads, or roots, such as Chicory and Dandelion for roasting and drinking as our morning beverage. Local trees such as Mulberry, Wild Cherry, Apple, Peach, Plum and Pear are often planted as landscape trees and then abandoned, offering a multitude of wild fruits at our reach. Berries grow in pockets of wild as well: Blackberries, Raspberries, Wineberries, Dewberries, Currants, Gooseberries, Elderberries, Grapes and Blueberries often can be found. Don’t forget the nuts! Acorns, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Beechnuts, Hickory nuts are just a few that can often be found in neighborhood parks and woods.
Why eat wild?
There are countless reasons, here are a few…
Eating wild speaks to the feral child inside of us. It returns us to our roots, grounding us in nature.
It helps us to weed our gardens. Suddenly, all those Dandelions have value. Violets add color and nutrition to our salads. Chickweed adds variety to the ho-hum salad or grilled cheese sandwich.
Wild foods often have more vitamins and minerals than garden grown foods because they choose to grow where the most nutrients are available.
Wild foods are not treated with fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and such. They do not get waxed as produce in the grocery store often is.
Eating wild gives us confidence. We can learn to provide food for ourselves and not rely on the grocery stores to feed us.
Wild food is sacred. It connects us to the divine sacred. Eating wild food is honoring the divine sacred inside all of us.
With the drought in California, food prices are going up. Adding local, wild food to our diets gives us a healthy variety without worrying about the cost.
It forces us to slow down and be aware. By taking 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour a day to walk to the wild places, we learn to observe. What is growing and available now? What is almost ready? What is finished growing? Where do the most lush wild foods grow?
It fuels a desire to learn and remember. Discovering wild foods in your area can inspire you to keep a nature journal of what grows where and when it’s ready to harvest. It can inspire you to want to learn more about that plant. Yep, I love to eat Nettles. Besides the nutrition, what health benefits can I gain from it? Will my allergies really go away? These questions are best answered through experience and keeping a journal helps to keep track of those experiences.
How to get started eating wild?
Take a walk through your neighborhood. Look for wild areas. Even cities have abandoned lots which sprout wild foods. Make a list of what you find and where you found it. Search your backyard. Have you made a list of what’s growing in it yet? Look up those plants and see what makes a great edible plant as well (there are lots of resources at the end of this article).
Resources and recipes for eating wild
The following are a few of my favorite resources for identifying wild edibles and recipe inspiration.
Foraging and Feasting by Dina Falconi
A City Herbal by Maida Silverman
The Wild, Wild Cookbook by Jean Craighead George
The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes by Connie Green
Mushrooming without Fear by Alexander Schwab
Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson. Don’t have a wild patch of earth nearby? Check out this book to see how you can eat on the wild side with every day produce.
Online articles and inspiration, food for thought
Wanting a little more inspiration? These articles and websites are my go to inspiration to eat wild.
A wild recipe for you
This is a versatile recipe that changes as the seasons go by. Carrots or zucchini can be added as a base if your family gives you the hairy eyeball over it being filled completely with wild greens.
3 beaten eggs
1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic or 2 cloves freshly minced
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 – 4 cups of chopped wild foods such as Nettles, Dandelion leaves and/or flowers, Lamb’s Quarters, Chickweed, Purslane, etc.
If only adding 2 cups of wild edibles, add in another 2 cups of grated zucchini or carrot
Stir together until combined.
Fry in a cast iron skillet in bacon grease, butter or coconut oil until brown on one side. Flip and cook on the other side until brown, about 3 minutes per side.
Wild is all around us! Do you harvest wild foods to add to your meals? What are your favorite wild edibles? Will you take the wild food challenge this year? How do you think it will help you and your kids to learn about the plants that grow around you?