I was asked to do a blog post on how I came to learn so much about wild edibles and foraging. I guess you could say it's in the blood! From the time I can remember, I've been nibbling things growing around the yard. When I was small a favorite comfort food was comfrey leaves pureed with apricots in the blender; so fresh and green. When apricots weren't in season, comfrey leaves were rolled into a ball to make the hairs less prickly, and then popped into the mouths (some folks believe that comfrey is harmful to the liver, so use at your own discretion).
Comfrey in bloom (it tastes better before blooming)~
A mix of lambsquarters, strawberry leaves, dandelions, viola, raspberry leaves, and a mystery plant in the backyard in Idaho~
When I was 12 we moved away from our small town "homestead," and to a larger city that seemed a lot bigger than it actually is. I lost touch with all those wonderful green treats, and did not rekindle a taste for them until I was waiting for my second child Audrey to be born.
My husband and I were living in Utah at the time, and my mother came down to be present at the birth. She and I took walks around our city neighborhood, and a few drives out to Utah Lake, where huge patches of lambsquarters were growing. She told me that my father used to love cooking them as greens, and we picked a mess to steam, then eat with olive oil and vinegar (we didn't have the traditional bacon grease at the time). I remember tasting them and thinking, "Why didn't anyone ever tell me this before?" ~ I had flashbacks of seeing lambsquarters and other similar plants growing along the trails we used to hike around Pocatello.
Lambsquarters and Purple Mustard, first coming up in spring~
A beautiful stand of nettles growing in Wolverine Canyon, Idaho~
My knowledge has been gained plant by plant (I still remember the "aha" moment when realizing just how common the plantain that I hadn't been able to recognize really is, and being elated when stung for the first time by a real, life stinging nettle), and I have sought out many nature-loving people whom I hoped would be lovers of edible plants as well, only to realize that this knowledge was mostly to be found through books and Divine Guidance. If YouTube had been around back then, just think how much quicker I would have gained the knowledge I have! I am glad that I've had to struggle, though, because I have special memories of discovering each plant, and it gives me joy to be able to share that knowledge with others (especially my own children).
Although I still dream of a garden bountiful enough to supply all of our needs, I shall always be a reverent user of wild foods and the One who placed such treasures quite literally at our feet, free for the taking. My dream is that more and more people will awaken to these same treasures, since I believe that the more we learn to consciously use what God has provided, the more we will wish to conserve those resources for the generations that follow in our footsteps.