Monday, February 11, 2013

More on Wild Edibles


Dear Friends,

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)~

We called the fruits of mallow "belly buttons" and peeled off the calyxes to eat just the round fruit. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only the calyxes, but the leaves themselves have the same wonderful "fresh pea" taste.

A mix of lambsquarters, strawberry leaves, dandelions, viola, raspberry leaves, and a mystery plant in the backyard in Idaho~
Shepherd's Purse was known to us as "wild cabbage", and we would eat it whenever we found it, as a nibble while playing in the yard.

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~
The following year we moved the family to Idaho, and my oldest brother gave me a copy of Euell Gibbons' "Stalking the Good Life." He told me that Euell was our father's hero, and since I have very few memories of my father I soaked up the book with great gusto, feeling his presence with me as I read. Euell Gibbons can make a convert out of anyone with his mouth-watering descriptions of all sorts of wild foods, and I was truly hooked! I was also taking correspondence courses from The School of Natural Healing at the time, learning many useful, common plants such as plantain, dock, and nettles, which are edible as well as medicinal. With a growing number of mouths to feed, and a garden that was a yearly disaster, using the vitamin and mineral-rich foods growing right under foot started to make a lot of sense.

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.




  1. Thanks for your knowledge of such things dear friend....its been fun learning from you :) Blessings

  2. I would love to know more about wild edibles, Marqueta. It's one of the reasons I love your blog. The trouble I have is figuring out from the illustrations if the plants are what the book says they are. Your little videos have been most helpful. Fortunately I have enough purslane, ramps and lambs quarters that we shall never starve!

  3. What a very interesting and informative testimony you have given us. I wasn't even aware that you were a "nibbler" back in your wee maiden days. :)


  4. Very interesting post.. I love how you interweave your practical, scientific knowledge with a lovely awareness of the plants as little gifts from God, strewn freely all around ~ that's just how I feel too!
    Are those pics taken in your current Spring? If so, WOW!
    So grey 'n' cold here!

  5. Good morning Marqueta, another interesting never ceases to amaze me how much is there for the taking if you know what you are looking at. I received your lovely parcel, many thanks. I have also received your seeds and will be putting together a return parcel for you in the near future. Have a lovely day...we have snow here and very low temperatures, but so pretty to look at. Regards Dev x

  6. Dear Marqueta,

    What fun to read about how you came to love herbs and the ways of plants! I loved your video too, and reminisced about the plants in The Wild Little Garden. Many similar things in North Carolina.


  7. Okay--tidy up the guest room--I'm comin' to stay for a while so you can teach me what you know! LOL. I know we can't work that out...yet...but I am learning a lot from your posts. I recall reading Gibbon's book and learning that he would sometimes gain weight from all the wild foods he would eat.

  8. Marqueta, that is so interesting! It is amazing how God provides for us in ways that we don't even notice. :-)

  9. I too have been eating the yard since I was a kid and still do! Even more so now that I know what wonderful healing and health God put there. Are these photos really what your February looks like? We are under a blanket of white, our backyard pickins are dried, made into tinctures and salves at this point.

  10. I Think your foraging knowledge is amazing I love when you talk about it. I am a big chicken to eat anything like this I just don't have the confidence to know what it is lol!! Anna and I want to grow herbs and find things around the yard Moose can eat. She has been reading about it ~Spring is on its way soon everything will be blooming Love Heather

  11. Happy Hearts and Flowers Day to you and your sweet little family, Marqueta!

  12. This is educational...and it makes sense God would give us to eat from the earth! My mom used to tell us how she ate dandelion salad during the depression...and now I see how rich in nutrients they are! I'm thinking I have lots of lambsquarters and strawberry leaves. Your pics are good and close-up.

  13. P.s.. forgot what i wanted to say first...I am wearing a pink shirt just like the one in your summer pic...ha...I know it is cold out...but I figured it is pink so I am wearing it today.

  14. Fun read. You inspire me so. I know so little and enjoy learning from your feet xox Clarice


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