Wild Food School USA ™

Why Eat Weeds and Wild Plants ?

First and foremost... it's fun!   If you're a real foodie then foraging for America's wild foods and edible weeds presents some really wonderful and exciting new tastes and textures for you to explore (though admittedly some plants don't step up to the plate on that account). Once you become familiar with these plants then you will find it as simple to use them as you would the vegetable greens you get from the supermarket.

Edible weeds offer new taste and textures for the kitchen Foraging for wild foods also gets you outdoors - even if it is only to sneak out to your backyard. For many folks it's a chance to re-connect with, and get closer to, nature - given that many of us live in urban environments.

Foraged wild foods are nutritious

Some edible weeds are also more nutritious than the veggie greens you get from your supermarket shelf.  Nettles more than match spinach as a source of vitamin C, and there's one edible species with 2 to 3 times more pro-vitamin A than spinach.

On a more serious level there is food security in its various forms…

Food security is really about individuals and households having economic and physical access to sufficient nutrition at all times, and not live in hunger or fear of starvation. Volatile food commodity prices can make foods too expensive to purchase, so wild foods and edible weeds can supplement the diet.

Drought and change will affect Food Security

The whole modern agricultural system is also increasingly reliant on petroleum products - for processing, transportation and even agro-chemicals - so increased oil prices feed into agricultural product prices which may or may not put them beyond of reach of the individual in the future.  There is also the potential for crop failure through water deficit and soil degradation.

Wheat Stem Rust (Ug99) is a threat to Food Securty

The world's population is largely dependent on three major staple sources of grain carbohydrate - rice, maize and wheat. If disease or drought cause crop failure in the major cereal producing parts of the world grain shortage and consequent price rises will occur.

At it's worst there might be a catastrophic failure of the world's wheat crops. Currently a fungal ' rust' (called strain Ug99) has been spreading eastwards from Africa towards Asia. Were it to go global then wheat production could collapse totally and countless millions would starve. Just think about what happened during the potato famines of Europe in the 19th century, and that was when the world population was very much smaller.

At its most severe, a wilful terrorist act could disconnect the civil infrastructure and food chain, leading to panic buying and hoarding of foods, so that within a matter of days (estimated to be 3) there is no food available on store shelves, and consequently the potential for widespread public disorder and hunger. If you have a knowledge of edible wild plants and weeds then you will have better food security and self-reliance in stressful times.

So it's good to get to know your edible weeds, for many reasons!


Copyright © M. Harrison 2010