HOW TO GATHER AND USE EDIBLE WILD PLANTS AND HERBS IN EARLY SPRING

Early Spring

How does early spring foraging compare to hunting for wild foods at other times of the year? Certain principles apply throughout the seasons, while others vary seasonally.

Always identify anything youíre going to eat with 100% certainty before you eat it. Collect edibles where theyíre plentiful. If someone else has already thinned out a stand of plants, let the plants regenerate and collect elsewhereóitís both more efficient and environmentally friendly to forage in a thicker stand of ìweeds.î

TrafficAvoid collecting within 50 feet of busy roads, where lead and other contaminants accumulate. Also, avoid railroad right-of-ways, where herbicides may have been sprayed.

TrainPay attention to what youíre doing while collecting. Make sure youíre picking only the plants you want. Occasionally Iíve had to remove poisonous plants, inadvertently included with edible ones, from a studentís bag, minutes after cautioning everyone about this very danger.

Treat the earth with respect. Never take more than you need. If youíve been digging, refill any holes. Take such a small percentage that anyone following in your footsteps wouldnít even notice that somethingís missing.

Share what youíve learned with any friends or acquaintances who may also love nature, and introduce children to supervised foragingóIíve seen it transform their lives for the better.

Start eating wild foods slowly, and then gradually increase your portions. Allergic reactions or intolerance may result from any new food, wild or cultivated. About 1 out of 50 people, for example, will get nauseous when they eat daylily shoots. If they eat only a few bites, theyíll feel only a little queasy. Pigging out, on the other hand, may cause vomiting or diarrhea.