Wild Foodies of Philly
In search of the food beneath our feet!
WELCOME! COMMENTS, CAUTIONS, & TIPS!
“Re-wilding” is about learning to live with nature, again.
Our natural world contains fantastic natural resources for food, fiber, medicine and crafts that have been cherished by people of many cultures for thousands of years. It is our aim to educate ourselves about the wild plants, native and non-native, in our region. During this process, it is important to cultivate an open mind because there are always new things to learn. It is also a good habit to refer to multiple sources of information and to keep a notebook. No one source contains all the information on wild edibles, and some information can be incorrect. Certain plants have been called 'poisonous' when only specific parts are, or they need special preparation in order to become edible, or they are for medicinal use only. Rather than rely solely on foraging, we also encourage you to grow wild plants yourself so they can be close at hand. Most wild edibles can grow anywhere - in yards, planters, and pots! So, welcome to our community and enjoy learning about our WILD WORLD OF PLANTS!
WHY WILD FOODS?
Respect - All wild plants have a 'purpose' in the ecosystem and it is our job to understand what it is.
Consideration - The 1/3 Rule is common practice by most foragers to refrain from harvesting more than 1/3 of any one plant or patch. Make an effort to learn about what plants are endangered and do your part to restore stands of threatened or endangered plants. United Plant Savers does important work on these issues: https://unitedplantsavers.org
Common Names vs Latin - As we work to identify and share knowledge about wild foods, we recognize that plants can be called by several names. Many foragers use common names because they are easier to pronounce and remember, but we encourage the study of the Latin binomial (genus and species) names of plants when possible, as it's the scientifically and internationally-accepted way of organizing species from all kingdoms. It ensures that we are talking about the correct plant as common names (for example butterfly bush) can be used to refer to many different species of plants. It takes practice! Do your best!
Public Parks & Private Lands - It is illegal to forage on property that is not your own. We use public parks to learn to identify wild edibles (and nibble a bit). Plus, many parks still use toxic chemicals, which we should work to put a stop to. That said, discretion is key when in public parks. No one is going to bother you if you nibble on some berries and greens, such as dandelions, garlic mustard, onion grass etc. However, park staff will get upset if you go after the milkweed which they use to attract and feed Monarch butterflies. The best thing to do is to obtain or purchase wild edible plants for your own yard or container garden, or use a friend’s garden space. Also, you can volunteer in many parks' weed removal programs, which can be a great opportunity to forage for wild edibles!
GENERAL TIPS ON FORAGING, PRESERVATION, PREPARATION, ETC:
CHILDREN - Take particular care with young children and teach them not to consume any plant without a knowledgeable adult present, as children are far less likely to understand which plants or plant parts may be toxic.
CONTAMINATED AREAS - Avoid certain areas, such as next to roads, train tracks, former industrial areas, vacant lots, etc.. Lead contamination from cars and house paint (used in houses built prior to 1970) can make plants taste sweeter. If you want to grow plants for food, have the soil tested. Visit: http://www.wildfoodies.org/MISC.htm. If soil is contaminated, there are plants that can remediate the soil over time. Otherwise, purchase organic soil with as few additives as possible.
MILKY SUBSTANCE AND WHITE CENTRAL VEINS - If a plant leeches a milky substance, latex, avoid it - except for sow thistle and wild lettuce, and even then, go slowly. Many people are allergic to latex and this can result in anaphylactic shock. For plants such as dandelions, chicory, and wild lettuces – the latex in the central vein might adversely affect those who are allergic. Therefore, eat on either side of vein, first.
FINE STINGING HAIRS – Wear gloves for plants that have fine stinging hairs, such as stinging nettle and prickly pear, and prepare properly.
OXALIC ACID - Too much oxalic acid, such as in cultivated spinach, is said to interfere with the processing of calcium in the body and can contribute to kidney stones for those that are prone. However, the U.S. National Institutes of Health have determined that the negative effects of oxalic acid are generally of little or no nutritional consequence in persons who eat a variety of foods.
GASSY ROOTS - Any root plant that contains inulin (Jerusalem artichoke, burdock root, dandelion root, chicory root, and thistle root) can give you flatulence. Therefore, it is strongly advised to soak the roots for 24 hours, replacing the water after the first 12 hours.
MOLD - Avoid plants whose green parts have turned color -- dark or white, particularly if conditions have turned very humid or wet.
CARROT FOLIAGE - Be sure to study plants of the Apiaceaea (carrot) family. One of the most dangerous look-a-like plants is poison hemlock, which can look very similar to Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot).
The giant hogweed is another plant to avoid.
POISONOUS PLANTS - There is a difference between non-edible and poisonous. Non-edible usually means that a food or plant is too bitter, tart, etc. to be used for food. Poisonous means that the plant could make a person ill, sometimes fatally. Learn about poisonous plants on the following page or at http://www.wildfoodies.org/PoisonousPlants.docx
These Comments, Cautions, and Tips are to assist you in learning about our Wild World of Plants. Forage On, With Care!
Lynn Landes, Founder
217 S. Jessup Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107