Urban foraging has grown over the past few years, from a few folks offering plant walks in city parks, to a career path for urban outdoors people. There’s good reason for it too. There is an amazing array of wild edibles within the limits of every city I’ve ever visited. Tough weeds spring up through the cracks in the sidewalk and in green spaces throughout the modern metropolis. If you’re cautious about pollution, you might surprise yourself with a fancy meal of city weeds.
Find A Greenspace
The idea of picking edibles at the park may not get your mouth watering, especially when you think about the reasons that dog owners take their companions to the park. But get off the manicured grass, and out to the edges, and you’ll find wild edibles in abundance. Honestly, I never visit a park without spotting some good looking edibles. If you’re worried about the pet droppings, or potential spraying in the park, then wash your harvest as soon as you get home. For even more insurance from pollution, wash the plants and then cook them. I would bet that there are fewer pesticides and chemicals on your foraged greens than the conventionally grown greens at the grocery store.
Look For These Urbanites
These are only a few of the wild treats that you can discover in your city’s greener spots. Make certain you have positive identification, and collect from areas that look undisturbed and unpolluted. Enjoy!
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
This bitter herb is the King of the urban jungle. It can be found growing happily anywhere in the city. It has many redeeming qualities, including its use as a tonic and a roasted root coffee.
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
With the look of a mustard and the spicy scent of garlic, this nutritious non-native plant can create thick patches of flavorful greens in city parks and open spaces. It can grow in sun and shade alike, so look for it almost anywhere.
Wild Garlic (Allium spp.)
This can be the best condiment for your foraging feast. Look for this one in sunny parks, people’s yards, and any other open ground. The leaves and bulbs are good raw or cooked.
Lambs Quarters (Chenopodium album)
This native American weed seems to enjoy disturbed soil and busy areas. It can grow tall (2 meters) in good soil, and it provides the best spinach substitute available throughout its growing season. The small black seeds can be shaken into a bowl, and ground into flour.
Acorn/Oak (Quercus spp.)
The nuts from oak trees are a calorie bonanza. They are also easy to collect, easy to process by leaching in water, and 0.5 kilos of acorns has more than 2,000 calories. And when you’re sweeping up the acorns from your neighbor’s walkway, tell him it’s because you’re just being nice. He probably won’t believe you if you tell that you plan on eating stray nuts off the ground.