Sustainable foraging Options
#1 Posted : 2/5/2014 2:09:09 AM

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Anyone else into foraging? Aside from mushroom hunting, I'm generally an urban forager. Over the years of expanding my menu of the supposedly unattainable "free lunch", I've discovered more and more absolutely delicious weeds and invasive species that people literally can't kill off ... the challenge becomes insuring that the ones you harvest haven't been subjected to pesticides and other urban pollution run off.

There's little in the winter to gather aside from medicinal chaga mushrooms from birch trees in northern latitudes (they're particularly easy to spot in the winter without all the tree foliage) and pine/spruce needles. But I'd be happy to start seasonal postings for some of my favorite foragibles. Japanese Knotweed was my all time favorite and very weedy new discovery this past spring, we made delicious savory stir fry with the young shoots as well as a couple very delicious vegan knotweed-strawberry pies. Other favorites include elderberry (as a medicinal), all sorts of berries and fruits, burdock root, early dandelion greens. I'm looking forward to my first wild asparagus harvest this coming sprig after finding a patch last summer, also hoping to locate a good poke patch, but didn't hunt for a good location during the summer fruiting season like I planned.

Some pointers for urban foraging include scouting along bike trails instead of roadways to avoid all the auto pollution and run off, and hunting in parks rather than yards if your municipality makes a point of not using pest/herbicides. If you are going to harvest fungi, foliage, nuts, fruits, roots from a private yard ... make sure that it's weedy (lots of dandelions, clover, mixed grasses are a good sign of little to no herbicides) and ask for permission if it's more than fruit hanging over onto public space or requires any digging.

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#2 Posted : 2/5/2014 9:13:43 PM

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One common thing I harvest in the winter is henbit, it puts on growth whenever its not frozen solid. Not a large volume food but it adds to my oatmeal.
The rest of the year dwarf mallow makes good oatmeal.

If you see first year burdocks off a bike trail in the fall put 3 stones around each one, you can dig the roots throughout winter. They store for a month or more in the fridge so you can harvest several in each go. Helps the immune system.
#3 Posted : 2/9/2014 8:24:27 PM


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Here is my list of wild edibles in Canada for winter

Spruce-Beer making, bark and small shoots.
juniper berries
Aspen sap and inner bark
American Chestnut
Tapping maple tree's
Yew-only the fleshy red berry-not the seed as it it poisonous
Hawthorn berries-if any left on the shrub
Rose-Hips, stems
Dogwood bark-tea
Hickory Nuts
White ask inner bark
Basswood small newer twigs stewed
Apple Tree bark
Arbutus Berries
Cat's tail roots

Perhaps I am asking the wrong questions but it doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

#4 Posted : 2/9/2014 10:15:46 PM

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I forrage medicinal tree mushrooms
wild spring water
nettle leaf and rhizomes
dandelion leaves flower and roots
cedar(western red) bows
pine needles and resins(I eat, make tinctures and inscents with the resin)
douglas fir resins and needles
knotweed shoots and roots
blackberries/blackberry leaf
wild apples
red clover
some kind of western mugwort

..phalaris of course..

maybe others I have forgotten. I usually learn a couple plants every season.

I just made a pot of cedar (thuja plicata) tea before I clicked this thread..
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#5 Posted : 2/10/2014 4:38:11 AM

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Gratitude for this thread.

I love wild foraging. When I say foraging I also mean utilitarian uses as well as edible, ie debris shelters, bow drill fire, tinder, coal extender, paint, Calcium Hydroxide as well as NaHo. I am not skilled in these but I do have a love for them. Different flavor spices or smoking additives for cooking and so much more.

Some of the teaching I have had has introduced me to my mammalian brain in determining edible/medicinal food using hunger and craving as reference points.

One of my most favorite dynamic meditations is to go out and find a animal trail and "pretend" I am following a specific animal track. At some point I start to loose the track or get flooded with doubt. At that point, while on all fours I lean over and start bring a plant into my mouth without using my hands. So much sensory data is there. Very informative process.

I feel the need to end this post with:

Know your risk factors. Very well, know the poisonous plants as well as the one that can make someone sick or that need processing.

And, God bless you
#6 Posted : 2/26/2014 5:02:01 AM

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Yeah, spring knotweed sprouts are a great one. You can put a small dent in a very invasive species and get some great food. I've made some really tasty savory asian dishes out of knotweed and the family loves the dessert knotweed/strawberry pie, as the sour flavor substitutes perfectly for rhubarb. What do you do with the roots though?
#7 Posted : 2/26/2014 6:05:26 PM

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One of my favorite places to forage is an old abandoned railroad embankment that runs through the forest preserve closest to my house. This is one of my treasure troves of foraging. I collect catnip, Saint John's wort, mullein, mugwort, raspberries, yarrow, mother wort, burdock, wild carrot and a bunch of other herbs that I'm forgetting from a mile long stretch.

Most of those plants are medicinal, but the surrounding forest provides plenty of edibles including various types of acorns, various wild onion species, garlic mustard, violet greens, cowparsnip, wild strawberry, nettle greens and others. These woods aren't the best for mushroom hunting, but there are good crops of chicken mushroom and giant puffball occasionally.

My advice to anyone who wants to forage is to first find every park, forest, etc in your area using satellite photos. Then get a camera and good field guides to plants and mushrooms and go to each place trying to identify everything you see. Keep a list of every species you identify.

Half the battle of foraging is identifying the right plants. And then once you know what plants are in your area, you can do research to find out if any are useful to you. You'll also be able to find out which ones are poisonous or which ones you shouldn't collect.

Keeping a list of plants you find is also just a really fun hobby and seems to be the natural next step for anyone who really enjoys plants and the outdoors. My list for the forest near my house is at 222 species and counting.
#8 Posted : 4/18/2014 5:07:06 PM

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I just started foraging due to being out of money and food. I'm eating nettle curry over rice right now, it's really good.
#9 Posted : 4/21/2014 9:14:36 PM

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Ramps season is coming up very shortly and the first of the spring mushrooms should be popping up in the weeks ahead. Big grin So far only picked out some wild chives here.
#10 Posted : 4/28/2014 2:12:14 AM

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jamie- your list of plants to get is very simular to mine, though i am veryy curious about your use of backberry leaves...
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#11 Posted : 4/28/2014 3:27:18 AM

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the leaves I use to make tea. Blackberry and rasberry leaves both make nice herbal teas..
#12 Posted : 4/29/2014 12:21:08 AM

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Correlation doesn't imply causation, however three months ago my LDL cholesterol was very high. It dropped down to normal faster then my Doctor has ever seen before. Also, for about three months, I've been broke and foraging to eat.

#13 Posted : 5/3/2014 1:24:35 PM

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Two of my favorites in the northeast were Solomon's Seal root.... very tasty, the new growth was kinda like almonds, the older woody growth needed to be boiled.
Stinging nettle. What a plant! and it is everywhere, good stuff.

For those of you wanting "survival" patches of food, look into jerusalem artichokes, just get a patch started in a private location and you pretty much can't eradicate it
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#14 Posted : 5/3/2014 2:46:49 PM
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A few here.

Acer spp. (maple) - sap

Acorus calamus (calumus, sweet flag) - rhizomes

Saggitaria spp. (arrowhead) - tubers

Amaranthaceae spp. (amaranth, pigweed) -young shoots

Daucus carota (wild carrot) - taproot

Asarum spp. (wild ginger) - rhizome

Asclepias syriaca (milkweed) - young shoots

Arctium spp. (burdock) - taproot

H. tuberosus (jerusalem artichoke) - root

Lactuca canadensis (wild lettuce) - leaves/young shoots

Taraxacum spp (dandelion) - young crowns

Impatiens capensis (jewelweed) - young shoots

Betula lenta (sweet birch) - sap

Corylus americana (american hazelnut) - fruit [nuts]

Barbarea verna, B. vulgaris (winter cress) - leaves

Capsella bursapastoris (shepards purse) - young leaves

Sambucus canadensis (elderberry) - flowers

Juniperus virginiana (red cedar) - shoots

Gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen) - leaves

Trifolium pratense (clover) - flowers

Allium canadense, A. tricoccum (wild onion) - leaves/bulb

Pinus spp. (pine) - needles

Typha spp. (cattail) - rhizome, young shoot

Urtica dioica (stinging nettle) - young shoot

#15 Posted : 5/7/2014 2:45:36 AM

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Don't forget Lamb's Quarters, Chenopodium album, a very nice fresh addition to salads and a delicious and highly nutritious cooked green that just grows all over in my neck of the woods. This is one green that tastes good from young shoots to leaf from seeding large plants.

A few highly recommended books for people interested in the subject of foraging:

The Forager's Harvest, by Samuel Thayer

Nature's Garden, by Samuel Thayer

Stalking the Wild Asparagus, by Eull Gibbons

and the Peterson's Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants.
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#16 Posted : 5/12/2014 8:10:55 PM

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Great topic!
In terms of foraging, I've come across a few books and lotsa literature:

- Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada
- Wild Edibles: A Practical Guide to Foraging
- Online Sources & PDF's.

The area I am in currently contains a lot of common wild edibles. I'll share some knowledge.

- Wild apples
- Wild mushrooms
- Oxeye daisy
- Horsetail
- Dandelion
- Wheatgrass
- Pansy
- Clover
- Sumac
- Aspen
- White cedar
- Red, white pine needles
- Wild grapes

I know of many others nearby but that is a general list of helpful plants that come to mind. Thumbs up
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#17 Posted : 8/1/2014 5:00:55 AM

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Grew this from seed for the first time this year and once I saw the seedlings I was able to spot it growing wild all over the place in completely disregarded areas. Nice taste if you're o.k. with a slightly slimy texture, slightly tart, abundant edible in cities and the country. It can be very weedy in agricultural areas that aren't treated with herbicides.
#18 Posted : 8/11/2014 3:11:34 PM

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jerusalem artichoke, as ringworm mentioned, takes over and is nearly impossible to get rid of after established.
american groundnut, or Apios americana, is a nice companion to jerusalem artichoke. ground nut climbs up the jerusalem artichoke stalks, and fixes N. its also got a tuber heavily used by native americans and the seeds are edible.
just as hard to eradicate as jerusalem artichoke too and also native to the same area!

(jerusalem Fartichokes cause gas tho, heads up lol)
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#19 Posted : 9/30/2014 3:50:58 AM

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The jerusalem artichoke is now positively identified as the late, and small, flowering sunflower on big ass stalks I've seen for years. Will have to try growing this combo out on public spaces between sidewalks and roads where it can spread without taking over gardens. Grew a big patch of these jerusalem artichokes from a few, spring tubers I bought at a spring farmer's market and planted.

We'll have to start a recipe thread for foragable edibles soon. The big things to keep in mind with this one is to harvest late fall or early spring while it's cold and to cook fully to avoid excess gas.

I highly recommend learning about fermenting veggies to anyone interested in sustainable edibles too; Sandor Katz' books and blog are a GREAT resource to start from.
#20 Posted : 10/19/2014 6:52:41 AM

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Pissed that I missed the elderberry season this year ... went looking for them about a month late. However, they're very medicinal and counteracted some serious flus that mainstream medicine hasn't caught up with yet. Just remember, late summer, not early fall for this one.
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