Board index Primitive Living & Survival Skills Edible Plants Foraging Tips - READ BEFORE FORAGING - even at your house

Foraging Tips - READ BEFORE FORAGING - even at your house

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IdahoHerbalist User avatar
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Posts: 1109 ... g-Tips.htm

Dinner may be just outside your back door -- even if you've never planted a garden in your life. Wild food foraging is rapidly gaining popularity and for good reason. Aside from feeding yourself, it's exciting to discover new foods that most people have been missing out on!

Free, delicious, and nutritious stems, leaves, nuts, seeds, fruit, flowers, roots, and fungi, and even weeds are just ready and waiting to please your palate.

Foraging edible wild foods gets you into the great outdoors and can become so addicting that it might become your next hobby. Word to the wise: wild food foraging has some extremely important ground rules. These practices should be first and foremost in your mind when you're foraging for wild food plants:

1. Number one safety rule: Be able to properly identify every plant that you harvest and know whether it's safe for human consumption (edible). If you can't 100% positively ID the plant you're harvesting (and know it to be an edible) -- then do not put it in your mouth, period.

2. Start your foraging adventure with a well-researched list of plants that are completely safe and edible. You should also be able to identify them beyond a shadow of a doubt. And learn their Latin names -- not just their common ones. Many plants share the same common (laymen's) name, yet are completely different plant species.

3. Take the next step in identifying plants and learn about those that look just like them -- but are the wrong plants. Extra ID skills is a cross-referencing safety plan.

4. If you're interested in foraging somewhere other than your own property, you must obtain permission first.

5. If your foraging adventure takes you beyond your backyard, let family or friends know the areas you're headed to and you'll be back.

6. Good places to forage wild food are those that you know haven't been sprayed with undesirables such as herbicides, pesticides, obvious animal waste, heavy metals, etc. The nice thing about collecting plants from your homestead or yard is that you know for sure what has or hasn't been exposed to.

7. Plants will absorb exhaust fumes and other pollutants from cars -- not so tasty, right? If you find yourself foraging along a populated road, look for plants that are at least 100 feet in (away) from the road. Less distance is fine if it's a small, rarely-used road.

8. Please don't over-harvest wild plants. Unless you know it to be a noxious weed that someone would like eradicated, the rule of thumb is to take less than 1/3 of a plant. Keep in mind that the plant you're harvesting from should be plentiful in number in the area. In other words, if you only see one or two plants, please refrain from harvesting at all. Sustainability is a big focus here.

9. If you've never eaten a particular foraged food, go easy at first. Not only does eating small amounts allow your system to adjust to the new food gradually, but you might find that you are allergic to it.

10. Buddy up! Beginning foragers gain confidence quickly if they have a knowledgeable mentor at their side. In fact group foraging expeditions are one of the best ways to gain some hands-on experience.

Learn to identify the wild plants growing around you and the next time you stroll through the yard or hike around the homestead, you just might find your groceries right there under your feet!

Post Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:19 pm
IdahoHerbalist User avatar
Site Admin

Posts: 1109
Some other guidelines and rules extracted from posted articles. Most of these are important enough to read SEVERAL times. There are also some new things below so please read all.

Caveats in Harvesting Edible Weeds:

Of course, not all weeds are edible plants. In fact, some are quite poisonous! Consequently, proper identification is essential. Don't underestimate the complexity and potential danger involved:

Never ingest a weed without first being certain that it is an edible plant! Books and the Web can help you with identification of edible weeds; but better yet, contact your local wildflower society or similar source for expert guidance.
Just because a particular plant is an "edible weed," that doesn't mean that every part of it should be eaten. In some instances of "edible weeds," just the root or leaf, e.g., should be eaten.
Likewise, some "edible weeds" must be cooked first -- never eat them raw!

Nor is that all. Consider the fact that "edible weeds" are only as safe as their growing conditions. For instance, avoid harvesting edible weeds in an area that has been subject to:

Past or present herbicide use
Road salt
Pet waste

Weed Harvesting Guidelines

1. Only harvest weeds that you can positively identify and know to be edible. The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants, by the Department of the Army is a good reference, if you aren't sure.

2. Avoid picking weeds close to roadways. They'll have absorbed exhaust fumes and road run off.

3. Avoid harvesting weeds in areas that may have been contaminated by animal feces.

4. Do not pick weeds from yards that have been treated with pesticides or herbicides.

5. Only eat the parts of plants that you know to be edible. Many edible plants have non-edible – and sometimes poisonous – parts.

The Number One Foraging Rule
It bears repeating, so I'm going to remind you about our Number One Safety Rule when harvesting wild foods: Be able to properly identify every plant that you harvest and know whether it's safe for human consumption (edible). If you can't 100% positively ID the plant you're harvesting (and know it to be an edible) -- then do not put it in your mouth, period

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