Urban foraging has grown from a few folks offering plant walks in city parks to a career path for urban outdoors people. There’s good reason for it: the amazing array of wild edibles inside the city limits of every urban area in the country. Tough weeds spring up through the cracks in the sidewalk and in green spaces throughout the modern metropolis. Be cautious about pollution, and you might surprise yourself with a fancy meal of city weeds.
Avoid The Toxins Of Towns
Concrete and asphalt aren’t that harmful to have around your wild edible plants, but the things that go along with these hard surfaces can be a problem. Pollution is rampant in cities. The cars in town release everything from vehicle exhaust to motor oil, brake fluid, and antifreeze. None of these are good for plants to absorb or for people to consume. Cities with industrial activity can be even worse, with factories and refineries belching out filth that rains down on the locals. To avoid the heavy metals and pollutants of the city, don’t forage near the following:
• Sites near industrial areas
• Ditches and waterways
• Downhill or downstream from parking lots
• Vacant lots with signs of dumping activity
• Swampy areas downhill/downstream from the city or inside the city
• Sites with former industrial activity (you’ll have to study the local history to find that out)
Stroll The Residential Areas
Wild fruit trees and nut trees are surprisingly common in residential areas. The stately oaks that development planners envision, later yield a bounty of acorns to local urbanites, easily swept up from sidewalks and parking spots. Wild cherries and wild grapes often grow up along fences and walls, thanks to the little birds that perch there and deposit the wild seeds. My friend Hueston makes unparalleled meals and beverages from edibles that he collects in his residential section of Baltimore. Hue’s wild cherries soaked in brandy are particularly delicious.
Bring a friend and a collecting bag, and take a walk, you never know what you’ll find. Have you found wild edibles inside the city limits? Let us know what you’ve found by leaving a comment.