The availability of nutritionally-dense food that is free from the clutches of corporate agriculture companies like Bayer AG and Monsanto is a growing concern to many people. And, while food security is indeed something to take seriously, few people are aware of their own already-available food growing in their yards.
That?s why I?m launching FoodHouseProject.com, a food adventure site in which my husband Curtis and I are combining his extensive food security background with my love of nutrition and disgust for Big Agra, and combining our love of foraging, gardening and food, in general to turn our neglected old farmhouse built in 1890 into the ultimate food-growing home. We will showcase the abundance of food all around, demonstrate how easy it is to forage or grow more of your own food to save you money, boost your nutrition, reduce your ecological footprint and start the ultimate revolution in which we reclaim our food sovereignty from Big Agra.
While I encourage you to start growing your own food, either sprouts, microgreens, container-tomatoes or full-blown gardens, I also hope you?ll take a look at the food that?s already around you, in the form of wild edibles, or weeds, as most people call them. Here are some of my favorite weeds that offer delicious and nutritious, as well as free food.
Hard to miss, these pretty flowers often pop up in our lawns if we let the grass grow a bit. While they can be a bit bitter, both the leaves and the flowers are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. Don’t eat the ones you find in floral bouquets as they’ve likely been sprayed with toxic pesticides.
Dandelion Greens, Flowers and Roots
Even if you?re not familiar with foraging, finding dandelion greens should not be a problem. They?re almost everywhere. Choose the small leaves as more mature leaves tend to become bitter. The immature leaves can be added to salads, soups or saut?ed like spinach, along with a little garlic, olive oil, squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of sea salt for a delicious side dish. The flowers can be added to salads and eaten raw. The roots are absolutely delicious when roasted, ground and added to smoothies or steeped as you would tea. They have a slightly chocolate-coffee flavor, which is why blending them with a handful of cashews, a dash of stevia, some almond milk and a little ice makes my favorite smoothie. Dandelion helps to boost the kidneys and liver.
Not just for grazing sheep, lamb?s quarters are found in plentiful quantities in most people?s lawns and make a delicious alternative to spinach. Add them raw to salads or saute them in a little olive oil and sea salt for a tasty plate of wild greens.
You won?t miss these herbs, particularly if you try to pick them without gloves. That?s because the fine hairs along the stems of the plant will give your skin a bit of a sting when you touch them. However, when they are cooked, they lose their stinging sensation. You?re left with one of the most nutritional greens you can eat, which are great in soups and stews. Nettles boost your overall nutrition but also help fight off seasonal allergies, which are a nuisance for many people this time of year.
Found in most lawns, you?ve probably stepped on these plants hundreds of time without consideration for them. Yet, they are an excellent addition to your diet. Chop and add to salads, soups or saute them as you would spinach.
Red Clover Leaves and Flowers
Easy to spot when in flower thanks to their purplish-pink flowerheads, red clover leaves make an excellent addition to salads, soups or can be saut?ed for a delicious plate of wild greens. The flowers can be added to salads or infused in boiled water to make tea.
If you?re not 100% certain you?ve identified the correct plant, it is best not to eat them. If you?re unsure, you might find an herb walk or foraging course helpful. Of course, stay clear of lawns near highways or any that have been sprayed with pesticides.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World?s Healthiest News, founder of Scent-sational Wellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking. Follow her work.
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