Grocery stores are unbelievably convenient, right? Farmers’ markets give you fresher foods, but they can sure be pricy and too season-specific, correct? Now, if solely relying on both of these options proves bothersome to you, perhaps it’s time to entertain the idea of heading outside and picking foods from the woods, or waters.
On this week’s episode of “Ageless Gardens” (Monday, February 26 at 9pm ET/6pm PT), a restaurateur forages for wild mushrooms to use in his world-renowned eatery. Sisters-in-law bloggers locate wild plants for tea, and a nighttime tonic. Additionally, an entrepreneur harvests seaweed for topical and edible uses, while a west coast gardener rescues wild plants that create an oasis for local wildlife.
To get you ready for the Wild Gardens chapter of “Ageless Gardens,” Charlie Dobbin, host of ZoomerRadio’s Garden Show (Saturdays at 9am ET/6am PT), provides advice to those who have interest in grabbing food straight out of Mother Nature’s hands.
Q: What should people keep in mind when venturing into the woods to pick fresh foods and healing plants?
Charlie: “This is all about common sense. Never ever eat anything unless you are 100% sure what it is! Never go foraging on private property without first asking permission. And, leave some behind – don’t over pick areas and ruin them for others. One more caveat: consider the source of your foraging. Avoid areas where dogs do their ‘business’ and avoid high salt content along roadsides.”
Q: Why do you think some people would rather eat items they find in the woods, versus what can be found at a grocery store?
Charlie: “Fresh, fresh, fresh! The taste of a ‘just picked’ plant is much superior to anything you’ll ever buy in a grocery store when it comes to flavour. Not to mention foraged foods are free!”
Q: How do you feel about the idea of harvesting items (i.e. seaweed) from a body of water?
Charlie: “I live inland, so I don’t have the option of harvesting seaweed. But, from what I’ve read there are some huge nutritional benefits and caveats to keep in mind. Firstly, seaweed is chock-full of essential nutrients. It can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried into teas or other flavourings. But, it must be harvested from out in the ocean, not when washed up dead on shore. All plants, including seaweed has a season and is harvested accordingly.
“Warning: although all seaweed is edible, the blue-green algae found in freshwater lakes and streams is very poisonous. Another warning: seaweeds can concentrate undesirable metals (lead, cadmium, copper). Avoid seaweeds from heavily populated centers or industrial areas. Honestly, if I lived near an ocean I would happily harvest washed up seaweed to incorporate into my soil as an excellent soil amendment.”
For more with Charlie, you can listen to her latest episode of “The Garden Show,” right here!